Cumulative radiation dose in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia and pulmonary arteriovenous malformations

Can Assoc Radiol J. 2014 May;65(2):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.carj.2013.02.007. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


Purpose: To determine the cumulative effective dose (CED) of radiation from medical imaging and intervention in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) who have pulmonary arteriovenous malformations and to identify clinical factors associated with exposure to high levels of radiation.

Methods: All patients with at least 1 pulmonary arteriovenous malformation were identified from the dedicated patient database of a tertiary HHT referral centre. Computerized imaging and electronic patient records were systematically examined to identify all imaging studies performed from 1989-2010. The effective dose was determined for each study, and CED was calculated retrospectively.

Results: Among 246 patients (mean age, 53 years; 62.2% women) with a total of 2065 patient-years, 3309 procedures that involved ionizing radiation were performed. CED ranged from 0.2-307.6 mSv, with a mean of 51.7 mSv. CED exceeded 100 mSv in 26 patients (11%). Interventional procedures and computed tomography (CT) were the greatest contributors, which accounted for 51% and 46% of the total CED, respectively. Factors associated with high cumulative exposure were epistaxis (odds ratio 2.7 [95% confidence interval, 1.1-6.3]; P = .02), HHT-related gastrointestinal bleeding (odds ratio 2.0 [95% confidence interval, 1.0-3.8]; P = .04) and number of patient-years (P < .0001).

Conclusions: Patients with HHT are exposed to a significant cumulative radiation dose from diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Identifiable subsets of patients are at increased risk. A proportion of patients receive doses at levels that are associated with harm. Imaging indications and doses should be optimized to reduce radiation exposure in this population.

Keywords: Arteriovenous malformations; Hereditary hemorrhagic; Ionizing; Multidetector computed tomography; Radiation; Radiation dosage; Telangiectasia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery / abnormalities*
  • Pulmonary Veins / abnormalities*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*