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Lifetime cancer risk from heart imaging low for most children; rises with complex tests
Date:6/9/2014

DURHAM, N.C. -- Children with heart disease are exposed to low levels of radiation during X-rays, which do not significantly raise their lifetime cancer risk. However, children who undergo repeated complex imaging tests that deliver higher doses of radiation may have a slightly increased lifetime risk of cancer, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

The findings, published June 9, 2014, in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, represent the largest study of cumulative radiation doses in children with heart disease and associated predictions of lifetime cancer risk.

Children with heart disease frequently undergo imaging tests, including X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and cardiac catheterization procedures. The number of imaging studies patients are exposed to depends on the complexity of their disease, with more serious heart conditions typically requiring more testing.

Although children benefit from advanced imaging procedures for more accurate diagnosis and less invasive treatment, the increase in radiation has potential health risks.

"In general, the benefits of imaging far outweigh the risks of radiation exposure, which on a per study basis are low," said senior author Kevin D. Hill, M.D., M.S., an interventional cardiologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine.

"We know that each of these individual tests carries a small amount of risk, but for patients who get frequent studies as part of their care, we wanted to better understand the risk associated with repeated exposure."

Hill and his colleagues studied a group of 337 children ages six and younger who had one or more surgeries for heart disease from 2005 to 2010. During the five-year study period, the children received an average of 17 imaging tests each as part of their medical care before and after their surgeries.

In order to estimate the amount of radiation deli
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Contact: Rachel Harrison
rachel.harrison@duke.edu
919-419-5069
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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