- Doctors, nurses
and technicians are exposed to radiations almost everyday.
- Recent studies suggest
that healthcare workers are at a great risk of radiation toxicity.
problems, cataracts, skin conditions and cancers are common radiation
exposure health problems.
- Interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists have two to
three times higher annual exposure than others.
a health care provider, patient safety is the first and foremost priority while
performing a procedure or giving treatment. But when it comes to medical
imaging, a recent study suggests that
there should be increased focus on protecting the health of staff.
is a form of medical imaging that is being used regularly by cardiologists and
surgeons. It uses a continuous X-ray beam to see real-time images of certain
parts of the body.
‘Health care workers are at a greater risk of radiation exposure related health problems, but if proper protective measures are followed, this can be prevented.’
The technique is used for a number of procedures, including coronary angiography, coronary artery angioplasty
, orthopedic procedures like fracture fixation and some urological procedures, too.
Cardiologists, electrophysiologists and cath lab
staffs have higher annual radiation exposure.
Researchers found that health care workers who perform fluoroscopy for heart procedures are at greater risk for orthopedic problems, cataracts, skin lesions and cancers
leader Maria Grazia Andreassi, PhD, Head
of the Genetics and Molecular Epidemiology Unit at the National Research
Council Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy, and colleagues
published their findings in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular
"Interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists have a two to three times higher annual exposure of radiation from medical imaging than radiologists, as they are closer to the radiological source and experience radiation exposure with the patient, whereas diagnostic radiologists are generally shielded from radiation exposure," she explains.
says that busy cardiologists and electrophysiologists are exposed to around 5
millisieverts (mSv) of radiation each year. The scientific unit mSv is a
measure of how much radiation is absorbed by the human body.
an average 30-year career, these health care workers may be exposed to a
radiation doses of around 50-200 mSv which is equivalent to around 2,500-10,000
chest X-rays. With this numbers, Andreassi and her team set out to investigate
the possible harmful effects in this group.
researchers assessed the results of an Italian survey that was completed by 746
health care workers. Of these, 466 worked in cardiac cath labs for a median of
10 years, while 280 worked in non-radiation health care settings.
care workers who work in cath lab were found to be at a higher risk of back,
neck and knee problems, 6.3 times greater risk for cataracts and 2.8 times
higher risk for skin lesions, compared to those who do not work in cath lab.
results accounted for the subjects' smoking habits and other influential
expected, the estimated radiation exposure was highest for cardiologists and
an average of 16 years, an individual who worked in a cath lab was found to
have a three times higher risk of developing cancer when compared to other
health care workers.
these cath lab workers had low chances of getting cardiovascular illnesses,
they were very much prone to developing high blood pressure and high
researchers do point out that the study was not devoid of limitations; for
example, the radiation doses were self reported by health care workers rather
than being measured.
More Focus Needed On
Workplace Radiation Protective Measures
researchers believe that their findings emphasize the need for increased focus
on protecting the health of medical
professionals regularly exposed to radiation, particularly the cardiologists
The stress on cardiologists and
electrophysiologists is because of a previous study published in American
Journal of Clinical Oncology
that concluded there is no proof that low-level
radiation from medical imaging - such as X-ray and computed tomography scans -
causes cancer in other health care workers.
the cardiologists pay very little attention to cumulative radiation exposure
reports," the lead researcher adds. "And recent studies confirm that
simple, effective protection measures - such as a lead curtain, protection
glasses and thyroid collars - are not used by the majority of exposed