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Review
, 2, 25

The Biological Effects of Diagnostic Cardiac Imaging on Chronically Exposed Physicians: The Importance of Being Non-Ionizing

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Review

The Biological Effects of Diagnostic Cardiac Imaging on Chronically Exposed Physicians: The Importance of Being Non-Ionizing

Maria Grazia Andreassi. Cardiovasc Ultrasound.

Abstract

Ultrasounds and ionizing radiation are extensively used for diagnostic applications in the cardiology clinical practice. This paper reviewed the available information on occupational risk of the cardiologists who perform, every day, cardiac imaging procedures. At the moment, there are no consistent evidence that exposure to medical ultrasound is capable of inducing genetic effects, and representing a serious health hazard for clinical staff. In contrast, exposure to ionizing radiation may result in adverse health effect on clinical cardiologists. Although the current risk estimates are clouded by approximations and extrapolations, most data from cytogenetic studies have reported a detrimental effect on somatic DNA of professionally exposed personnel to chronic low doses of ionizing radiation. Since interventional cardiologists and electro-physiologists have the highest radiation exposure among health professionals, a major awareness is crucial for improving occupational protection. Furthermore, the use of a biological dosimeter could be a reliable tool for the risk quantification on an individual basis.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
At high acoustic pressure, ultrasound is capable of causing rapid bubble which grow and collapse among them (a) and cells (b). This mechanism results in the production of sufficient energy to disrupt chemical bonds and produce reactive free radicals, that may interfere with DNA.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Radiation damage of DNA. Damaged DNA is screened through the process of DNA repair and mismatch correction. DNA lesions that escape repair, has the ability to produce mutations, which lead to the development and the progression of both cancer and human diseases even decades after exposure.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Biomarkers of DNA damage in human lymphocytes: a) Structural chromosomal aberrations (CA) are typical of cancer cells, probably as a manifestation of genetic instability. b) Micronuclei (MN) can originate from chromosome breaks or whole chromosomes that fail to engage with the mitotic spindle when the cell divides. Therefore, the micronucleus test can be considered just as a real "biological dosimeter" for evaluating both numerical and structural chromosome aberrations. c) Sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) represent symmetrical exchanges between sister chromatids; generally they do not result in chromosomal alterations of the genetic information. c) The Comet assay is an especially sensitive method for detecting DNA single-strand breaks and oxidative DNA damage in individual cells. The entity of the DNA damage is proportional to the length of the comet.
Figure 4
Figure 4
a) Decrease in exposure to ionizing radiation in hospital radiologists over the most recent decades and b) a similar time-related reduction in the frequency of chromosome-type aberrations (redrawn from ref. 58)
Figure 5
Figure 5
Illustration of potential use of biomarkers as early predictors of clinical disease. The evaluation of genetic effects such as chromosomal damage could be used to anticipate delayed health outcomes, providing a greater potential for preventive measures.

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References

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