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Wide Range of Radiation Exposure in Children Undergoing Cardiac Procedures — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 10, 2014

Wide Range of Radiation Exposure in Children Undergoing Cardiac Procedures

By Larry Husten

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

For most children who are exposed to radiation during cardiac procedures, the increased risk for cancer later in life is low, a Circulation study finds. But for some children who undergo more complex procedures, the increased risk is significant.

Researchers studied some 340 children who underwent one of seven cardiac surgery procedures between 2005 and 2010. For five of the procedures (atrial septal defect closure, ventricular septal defect closure, arterial switch operation, tetralogy of Fallot repair, and atrioventricular canal defect repair), the median annual radiation dose ranged from 0.9 to 0.29 mSv, which the researchers called "reassuringly low." But children who underwent the most complex operations received much more radiation: a median 20.08 mSv with the Norwood operation and 42.54 with cardiac transplantation.

For the less complex procedures, the estimated lifetime attributable risk for cancer due to radiation was small (6-20 cases per 100,000 exposed). But for the Norwood operation and cardiac transplantation, risks were higher (799 and 1677, respectively, per 100,000). Because of the expected impact of radiation on breast and thyroid cancer, girls had a significantly higher increase in risk than boys.

Adapted from CardioExchange.

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