Vascular effects of occupational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation

Am J Ind Med. 1996 Jul;30(1):72-7. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0274(199607)30:1<72::AID-AJIM12>3.0.CO;2-5.


Damage to the microcirculation caused by high-dose ionizing radiation is well known but data concerning low-dose exposure are scant and contrasting. We employed capillary microscopy to study dermal microcirculation damage resulting from occupational exposure to ionizing radiation doses lower than 5 rem/year (maximum permissible dose in Italy). We studied 145 physicians (60.7% radiologists, 33.8% orthopedic specialists, 5.5% cardiologists) occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation and a control group of 106 subjects in comparable but different occupations not exposed to ionizing radiation or to other skin hazards. All subjects were administered a clinical protocol and underwent capillary microscopy of the fingernail-fold. Capillary microscopy alterations were classified as absent, mild, moderate, marked and severe. Our data confirm that occupational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation can lead to morphological and functional alterations of the dermal microcirculation, which can be identified early by capillary microscopy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Capillaries / radiation effects
  • Cardiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Microcirculation / radiation effects
  • Microscopy
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Orthopedics
  • Physicians*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Radiation, Ionizing*
  • Radiology
  • Skin / blood supply*