The standard chromosome test provided is the dicentric assay, which can indicate a recent radiation exposure that occurred within about two years. A chromosome test more suited to indicating an older radiation exposure is called Fluorescence In Situ Hybridisation (FISH). The test detects stable radiation induced chromosome translocations and can be used to assess total lifetime radiation dose. Note that none of the tests we offer are definitive, rather, we provide estimates of dose, so results are always reported together with an estimate of how certain we are that the result is correct.

As chromosome analysis is a medical test, UKHSA will only carry out the analysis following an official request from an appropriate doctor - an occupational health specialist, GP or consultant. CDS scientists are not medical doctors and cannot comment on medical history, rather we advise and reassure based on the scientific results of our tests.

These methods are complimented by development, validation and implementation of the latest emerging techniques. An example of this is the newly developed gamma-H2AX DNA damage assay for blood collected within approximately 1-2 days of exposure and which is much faster than the traditional cytogenetic techniques.

More information about the techniques or contact us to discuss your case specific biodosimetry needs.

In addition to the traditional cytogenetic assays, UKHSA has recently implemented a technique using optically stimulated luminescence on aluminium oxide in electronic components taken from mobile phones to give radiation dose estimates.

More information about research and development