Complex heart tests raise cancer risk

Washington : Complex heart imaging can increase cancer risks for children throughout their lifetime, a new research has warned, reports PTI.

The study, co-authored by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital cardiologist Jason Johnson, is the first in which researchers quantified cumulative radiation doses in paediatric heart patients and predicted lifetime cancer risks based on the types of exposures.

In the study, Johnson and fellow researchers found that radiation from standard X-rays don’t significantly raise cancer risks for young children, in general, but children undergoing more complex procedures with higher radiation – like cardiac catheterisations and computed tomography (CT) scans have higher risks.

“Cancer risk overall is relatively low, but we hope that this awareness will encourage providers to limit radiation exposure in children, when alternative procedures can offer the same benefit with less radiation,” Johnson said.

“We know that each of these individual tests carries a small amount of risk, but for patients who get frequent studies as part of their care, we wanted to better understand the risk associated with repeated exposure,” said senior author Kevin D. Hill, an interventional cardiologist and assistant professor of paediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, according to .

Researchers reviewed medical records to find the most common imaging procedures, calculated how much radiation organs absorb during each procedure. They then used a National Academy of Sciences report to analyse lifetime cancer risks based on the amounts of each procedure’s exposure.

Lifetime cancer risk increases ranged from 0.002 per cent for chest X-rays to 0.4 per cent for complex CT scans and cardiac catheterisations.

“Clinicians need to weigh the risks and benefits of different imaging studies, including those with higher radiation exposure,” Hill said. “We’re not proposing eliminating complex imaging — in fact, they’re critically important to patients — but we can make significant improvements by prioritizing tests and simply recognizing the importance of reducing radiation exposure in children,” reports

The research was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

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