The dicentric chromosome assay (DCA) is the gold-standard assay for accurately estimating unknown radiological doses to individuals following radiological or nuclear accidents. However in a mass-casualty scenario, this assay is not well suited for providing timely dose estimates due to its time- and expertise-intensive nature. In Canada, two approaches are being developed in an attempt to increase triage-quality biological dosimetry throughput. These are 1) increasing the number of trained personnel capable of conducting the DCA, and 2) evaluating alternative biodosimetry approaches or DCA variations. In a recent exercise, a new scoring technique (termed DCA QuickScan) was evaluated as an alternative rapid-scoring approach. Triage-quality conventional DCA and DCA QuickScan analysis were based upon scoring a minimum of 50 metaphase cells or 30 dicentrics by 9-15 scorers across four laboratories. Dose estimates for the conventional DCA were found to be within 0.5 Gy of the actual dose for 83% of the unknown samples, while DCA QuickScan dose estimates were within 0.5 Gy for 80% of the samples. Of the dose estimates falling 0.5 Gy or more outside the actual dose, the majority were dose over-estimates. It was concluded that the DCA QuickScan approach can provide critical dose information at a much faster rate than the conventional DCA without sacrificing accuracy. Future studies will further evaluate the accuracy of the DCA QuickScan method.

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Keywords Accidents, nuclear, Chromosome aberrations, Cytogenetics, Emergencies, radiological
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Journal Health Physics
Flegal, F.N. (F. N.), Devantier, Y. (Y.), McNamee, J.P. (J. P.), & Wilkins, R.C. (2010). Quickscan dicentric chromosome analysis for radiation biodosimetry. Health Physics, 98(2), 276–281. doi:10.1097/HP.0b013e3181aba9c7