Monitoring of fetal radiation exposure during pregnancy

J Vasc Surg. 2013 Sep;58(3):710-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2013.01.052. Epub 2013 Apr 13.


Background: One unique concern of vascular surgeons and trainees is radiation exposure associated with increased endovascular practice. The safety of childbearing is a particular worry for current and future women in vascular surgery. Little is known regarding actual fetal radiation exposure. This multi-institutional study aimed to evaluate the radiation dosages recorded on fetal dosimeter badges and compare them to external badges worn by the same cohort of women.

Methods: All women who declared pregnancy with potential radiation exposure were required to wear two radiation monitors at each institution, one outside and the other inside the lead apron. Maternal (external) and fetal monitor dosimeter readings were analyzed. Maternal radiation exposures prior to, during, and postpregnancy were also assessed to determine any associated behavior modification.

Results: Eighty-one women declared pregnancy from 2008 to 2011 and 32 had regular radiation exposure during pregnancy. Maternal whole-body exposures ranged from 21-731 mrem. The average fetal dosimeter recordings for the cohort rounded to zero. Only two women had positive fetal dosimeter recordings; one had a single recording of 3 mrem and the other had a single recording of 7 mrem. There was no significant difference between maternal exposures prior to, during, and postpregnancy.

Conclusions: Lack of knowledge of fetal radiation exposure has concerned many vascular surgeons, prompting them to wear double lead aprons during pregnancy, and perhaps prevented numerous other women from entering the field. Our study showed negligible radiation exposure on fetal monitoring suggesting that with the appropriate safety precautions, these concerns may be unwarranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetus / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure* / prevention & control
  • Occupational Health
  • Pregnancy
  • Protective Clothing
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control
  • Radiation Monitoring*
  • Radiation Protection / instrumentation
  • Radiography, Interventional* / adverse effects
  • Radiology, Interventional*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Workforce