Iatrogenic Radiation Exposure to Patients With Early Onset Spine and Chest Wall Deformities

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013 Aug 1;38(17):E1108-14. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318299fb82.


Study design: Retrospective cohort series.

Objective: Characterize average iatrogenic radiation dose to a cohort of children with thoracic insufficiency syndrome (TIS) during assessment and treatment at a single center with vertically expandable prosthetic titanium rib.

Summary of background data: Children with TIS undergo extensive evaluations to characterize their deformity. No standardized radiographical evaluation exists, but all reports use extensive imaging. The source and level of radiation these patients receive is not currently known.

Methods: We evaluated a retrospective consecutive cohort of 62 children who had surgical treatment of TIS at our center from 2001-2011. Typical care included obtaining serial radiographs, spine and chest computed tomographic (CT) scans, ventilation/perfusion scans, and magnetic resonance images. Epochs of treatment were divided into time of initial evaluation to the end of initial vertically expandable prosthetic titanium rib implantation with each subsequent epoch delineated by the next surgical intervention. The effective dose for each examination was estimated within millisieverts (mSv). Plain radiographs were calculated from references. Effective dose was directly estimated for CT scans since 2007 and an average of effective dose from 2007-2011 was used for scans before 2007. Effective dose from fluoroscopy was directly estimated. All doses were reported in mSv.

Results: A cohort of 62 children had a total of 447 procedures. There were a total of 290 CT scans, 4293 radiographs, 147 magnetic resonance images, and 134 ventilation/perfusion scans. The average accumulated effective dose was 59.6 mSv for children who had completed all treatment, 13.0 mSv up to initial surgery, and 3.2 mSv for each subsequent epoch of treatment. CT scans accounted for 74% of total radiation dose.

Conclusion: Children managed for TIS using a consistent protocol received iatrogenic radiation doses that were on average 4 times the estimated average US background radiation exposure of 3 mSv/yr. CT scans comprised 74% of the total dose.

Level of evidence: 3.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Fluoroscopy / adverse effects
  • Fluoroscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiography / adverse effects
  • Radiography / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ribs / diagnostic imaging*
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Spine / abnormalities
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spine / surgery
  • Syndrome
  • Thoracic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thoracic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Diseases / surgery
  • Thoracic Wall / abnormalities
  • Thoracic Wall / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data