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Risks related to fluoroscopy radiation associated with electrophysiology procedures


The benefits of cardiac imaging are immense, and modern cardiac electrophysiology (EP) requires the extensive and versatile use of a variety of cardiac imaging and radiology-based techniques. In the cardiac electrophysiology lab, doses can range around a reference effective dose (ED) of 15 milliSievert corresponding to 750 chest x-rays for a cardiac radiofrequency ablation, ranging from less than 2 to > 60 mSv. The reference dose for a regular pacemaker or ICD implant  is 4 mSv (range 1.4-17) and for a CRT implant is 22 mSv (range 2.2-95).   Doses on the order of  magnitude of 10-100 milliSievert (mSv) correspond to a low (albeit definite, not negligible) additional lifetime risk of fatal and non-fatal cancer from between 1 in 1000 (10 mSv) to 1 in 100 (100 mSv). The increasing use and complexity of cardiac electrophysiology techniques have not been matched by increasing awareness and knowledge by prescribers and practitioners. The protection of doctors is just as important as protection of patients. Most experienced (and most exposed) interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists have an exposure per annum of around 5 mSv, two to three times higher than diagnostic radiologists, with a typical cumulative lifetime attributable risk on the order of magnitude of 1 cancer (fatal and non-fatal) per 100 exposed subjects. Operator dose per procedure correlates somewhat with the patient dose, but may be typically 1000 times lower depending upon the shielding employed (one unit of incidence scatter dose for the operator when 1000 units of incident dose are given to the patient). However, adequate radiation protection training and diligent protection can reduce this radiation exposure by 90%.

The priority given to radioprotection in every cardiology department is an effective strategy for primary prevention of cancer, a strong indicator of the quality of the cardiology division, and the most effective shielding for enhancing the safety of patients, doctors, and staff.

Credits: Eugenio Picano; Emanuela Piccaluga; Renato Padovani; Claudio Antonio Traino; Maria Grazia Andreassi; Giulio Guagliumi



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