Aims: Interventional cardiologists who work in cardiac catheterisation laboratories are exposed to low doses of ionising radiation that could pose a health hazard. DNA damage is considered to be the main initiating event by which radiation damage to cells results in development of cancer.
Methods and results: We report on four interventional cardiologists, all with brain malignancies in the left hemisphere. In a literature search, we found five additional cases and thus present data on six interventional cardiologist and three interventional radiologists who were diagnosed with brain tumours. All worked for prolonged periods with exposure to ionising radiation in the catheterisation laboratory.
Conclusions: In interventional cardiologists and radiologists, the left side of the head is known to be more exposed to radiation than the right. A connection to occupational radiation exposure is biologically plausible, but risk assessment is difficult due to the small population of interventional cardiologists and the low incidence of these tumours. This may be a chance occurrence, but the cause may also be radiation exposure. Scientific study further delineating occupational risks is essential. Since interventional cardiologists have the highest radiation exposure among health professionals, major awareness of radiation safety and training in radiological protection are essential and imperative, and should be used in every procedure.