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Radiology. 2010 Feb;254(2):326-41. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2542082312.

Fluoroscopically guided interventional procedures: a review of radiation effects on patients' skin and hair.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, 627 W 165th St, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Most advice currently available with regard to fluoroscopic skin reactions is based on a table published in 1994. Many caveats in that report were not included in later reproductions, and subsequent research has yielded additional insights. This review is a consensus report of current scientific data. Expected skin reactions for an average patient are presented in tabular form as a function of peak skin dose and time after irradiation. The text and table indicate the variability of reactions in different patients. Images of injuries to skin and underlying tissues in patients and animals are provided and are categorized according to the National Cancer Institute skin toxicity scale, offering a basis for describing cutaneous radiation reactions in interventional fluoroscopy and quantifying their clinical severity. For a single procedure performed in most individuals, noticeable skin changes are observed approximately 1 month after a peak skin dose exceeding several grays. The degree of injury to skin and subcutaneous tissue increases with dose. Specialized wound care may be needed when irradiation exceeds 10 Gy. Residual effects from radiation therapy and from previous procedures influence the response of skin and subcutaneous tissues to subsequent procedures. Skin irradiated to a dose higher than 3-5 Gy often looks normal but reacts abnormally when irradiation is repeated. If the same area of skin is likely to be exposed to levels higher than a few grays, the effects of previous irradiation should be included when estimating the expected tissue reaction from the additional procedure.

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