The Dangers of Physician Radiation Exposure During Catheterizations

Over 17 million fluoroscopy-guided interventional procedures occur every year. While these procedures are overall beneficial and help provide research on cognitive function, health effects, cancer, and reproductive effects, there is an increasing concern about radiation exposure that occurs during these appointments.

Cardiology teams are specifically experiencing the effects of scatter radiation as there has been an increase in the sheer number of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) in the past few years. While the benefits of increasing technology undoubtedly help patients through shorter recovery times and fewer complications, the internal teams are suffering from radiation exposure.

What Are the Side Effects?

Interventional cardiologists are exposed to roughly 2,500-10,000 chest X-rays during their career, however, this exposure has a significant impact on the brain. The human brain is subject to higher-intensity exposure, meaning that the brain is exposed to the equivalent of 50,000 chest X-rays for these workers. The specific health impacts of this exposure includes malignant brain tumors, cancer, reduced cognitive function, cataracts, and more. Premature vascular disease is also a potential side effect.

Reducing Exposure

Thankfully, there are methods to reduce radiation exposure. Leaded aprons and personal protection equipment are beneficial, but they also can cause strain on the musculoskeletal system. ALARA, or as low as achievably possible, is another guiding principle to help keep exposure to a minimum. This is something that you can expect during each and every appointment with our team.

The best way to reduce radiation exposure is to spend less time in the cath lab performing diagnostic or unnecessary caths. Cardiac PET has proven effective at preventing caths because of the high quality images available for a patient diagnosis. If you’re interested in learning more about our cardiac PET imaging services, please reach out to us at Cardiac Imaging, Inc.!