Acute Radiation Syndrome: Assessment and Management

South Med J. 2010 Jun;103(6):541-6. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181ddd571.


Primary care physicians may be unprepared to diagnose and treat rare, yet potentially fatal, illnesses such as acute radiation syndrome (ARS). ARS, also known as radiation sickness, is caused by exposure to a high dose of penetrating, ionizing radiation over a short period of time. The time to onset of ARS is dependent on the dose received, but even at the lowest doses capable of causing illness, this will occur within a matter of hours to days. This article describes the clinical manifestations of ARS, provides guidelines for assessing its severity, and makes recommendations for managing ARS victims.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Radiation Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Acute Radiation Syndrome / therapy*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Critical Pathways
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care
  • Pancytopenia / diagnosis
  • Pancytopenia / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Radiometry
  • Whole-Body Irradiation / adverse effects