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Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2011 Nov 21;9:35. doi: 10.1186/1476-7120-9-35.

The radiation issue in cardiology: the time for action is now.

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1
Institute of Clinical Physiology, CNR, Pisa, Italy. picano@ifc.cnr.it

Abstract

The "radiation issue" is the need to consider possible deterministic effects (e.g., skin injuries) and long-term cancer risks due to ionizing radiation in the risk-benefit assessment of diagnostic or therapeutic testing. Although there are currently no data showing that high-dose medical studies have actually increased the incidence of cancer, the "linear-no threshold" model in radioprotection assumes that no safe dose exists; all doses add up in determining cancer risks; and the risk increases linearly with increasing radiation dose. The possibility of deterministic effects should also be considered when skin or lens doses may be over the threshold. Cardiologists have a special mission to avoid unjustified or non-optimized use of radiation, since they are responsible for 45% of the entire cumulative effective dose of 3.0 mSv (similar to the radiological risk of 150 chest x-rays) per head per year to the US population from all medical sources except radiotherapy. In addition, interventional cardiologists have an exposure per head per year two to three times higher than that of radiologists. The most active and experienced interventional cardiologists in high volume cath labs have an annual exposure equivalent to around 5 mSv per head and a professional lifetime attributable to excess cancer risk on the order of magnitude of 1 in 100. Cardiologists are the contemporary radiologists but sometimes imperfectly aware of the radiological dose of the examination they prescribe or practice, which can range from the equivalent of 1-60 mSv around a reference dose average of 10-15 mSv for a percutaneous coronary intervention, a cardiac radiofrequency ablation, a multi-detector coronary angiography, or a myocardial perfusion imaging scintigraphy. A good cardiologist cannot be afraid of life-saving radiation, but must be afraid of radiation unawareness and negligence.

PMID:
22104562
PMCID:
PMC3256101
DOI:
10.1186/1476-7120-9-35
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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