OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to describe radiation exposure from cardiac imaging procedures over time in a general population. Cardiac imaging procedures frequently expose patients to ionizing radiation, but their contribution to effective doses of radiation in the general population is unknown.
METHODS: We used administrative claims to identify cardiac imaging procedures performed from 2005 to 2007 in 952,420 nonelderly insured adults in 5 U.S. health care markets. We estimated 3-year cumulative effective doses of radiation in millisieverts from these procedures We then calculated population-based annual rates of radiation exposure to effective doses 3 mSv/year (background level ofradiation from natural sources), >3 to 20 mSv/year, or >20 mSv/year (upper annual limit for occupational exposure averaged over 5 years).
RESULTS: A total of 90,121 (9.5%) individuals underwent at least 1 cardiac imaging procedure using radiation. Among patients who underwent 1 cardiac imaging procedures, the mean cumulative effective dose over 3 years was 16.4 mSv (range 1.5 to 189.5 mSv). Myocardial perfusion imaging accounted for 74% of the cumulative effective dose. Overall, 47.8% of cardiac imaging procedures were performed in physician offices; this proportion was higher for myocardial perfusion imaging (74.8%) and cardiac computed tomography studies (76.5%). The annual population-based rate of receiving an effective dose of >3 to 20 mSv/year was 89.0 per 1,000; and 3.3 per 1,000 for cumulative doses >20 mSv/year. Annual effective doses increased with age and were generally higher among men.
CONCLUSIONS: Cardiac imaging procedures lead to substantial radiation exposure and effective doses for many patients in the U.S.
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