Health Conditions in Interventional Lab Personnel

Interventionalists and their staff are exposed to high amounts of radiation every day due to the long, complicated procedures performed and their proximity to the radiation source.  Despite improvements in imaging technology and radiation safety protocols, exposure has increased six-fold in the last 30 years due to the volume and complexity of modern procedures, and nearly 40% of the increased exposure is related to cardiovascular imaging and intervention.[1]

A 2016 study revealed that health conditions are more common in interventional cardiology/cardiac electrophysiology staff than in unexposed staff (see Figure 1) and that the rate of these problems increased with the number of years of work in this occupation[2] (see Figure 2). These conditions included cancer, skin lesions, cataract and orthopedic illnesses while secondary findings included increased risks of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and anxiety/depression.  The elevated risk profile of interventional staff for these conditions was found despite adherence to international and federal dose limits.

The study showed that interventional staff are six times more likely to develop anxiety/depression, five times more likely to develop orthopaedic illnesses, three times more likely to develop skin lesions and two times more likely to develop cancer than unexposed staff working in the same hospital. Your exposure today may not be felt for years to come. Radiation-induced disease can have a biological latency of more than 10 years.[3]

Radiation Safety

Medical imaging professionals can have long, safe careers when they monitor their exposure and employ the three principles of radiation protection: time, distance and shielding.

“Just because you can’t smell it, see it or feel it, doesn’t mean it isn’t serious; in fact, the lack of such stimuli may make it ever more serious.”

Lee F. Rogers, MD, Editor in Chief, American Journal of Roentgenology, July 2001

Sources

[1] National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements. Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United States. Bethesda, MD National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, (2009) 160.

[2] Andreassi, et al. 12 Apr 2016 https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCINTERVENTIONS .115.003273 Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions. 2016

[3] Venneri, L, et al. Cancer risk from professional exposure in staff working in cardiac catheterization laboratory: Insights from the National Research Council’s Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII Report. American Heart Journal, (2009) 157: (1), 118-124

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