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Br J Radiol. 2008 Sep;81(969):699-705. doi: 10.1259/bjr/29507259. Epub 2008 May 28.

Cumulative patient effective dose in cardiology.

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Hospital S Maria della Scaletta, Imola, Italy.


Medical radiation from X-rays and nuclear medicine is the largest non-natural (man-made) source of radiation exposure in Western countries. The aim of this study was to assess the individual cumulative effective dose in patients admitted to our cardiology ward. We collected a cumulative radiological history from a structured questionnaire and access to hospital records in 50 consecutive adult patients (36 males; age, 66.7+/-10.8 years) admitted to the Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa. The cumulative effective dose was assessed as an indicator of stochastic risk of cancer. We derived the effective dose for each individual examination from the Medical Imaging Guidelines of the European Commission (2001). On average, each patient underwent a median of 36 examinations (interquartile range, 23-46). The median cumulative effective dose was 60.6 mSv. Three types of procedures were responsible for approximately 86% of the total collective effective dose: (i) arteriography and interventional cardiology (12% of examinations, 48% of average dose per patient); (ii) nuclear medicine (5% of examinations, 21% of average dose per patient); and (iii) CT (4% of examinations, 17% of average dose per patient). The median estimated extra risk of cancer was approximately 1 in 200 exposed subjects. In conclusion, the average contemporary cardiological patient is exposed to a significant cumulative effective dose from diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. It is important to log cumulative dose for each patient at the time of each examination. Every effort should be made to justify the indications and to optimize the doses.

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