Research Article|Articles in Press

Physician Radiation Exposure During Endomyocardial Biopsy and Right Heart Catheterization


      • Right heart catheterizations (RHC) and endomyocardial biopsies (EMB) are frequently performed using the internal jugular (IJ) approach.
      • The physician radiation exposure during RHC with EMB using the IJ approach is similar to that of coronary angiography.
      • Education regarding this occupational risk to cardiologists performing RHC and EMB is necessary.



      Cardiologists performing coronary angiography (CA) and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) are at risk of health problems related to chronic occupational radiation exposure. Unlike during CA and PCI, physician radiation exposure during right heart catheterization (RHC) and endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) has not been adequately studied. The objective of this study was to assess physicians’ radiation doses during RHC with and without EMB and compare them to those of CA and PCI.


      Procedural head-level physician radiation doses were collected by real-time dosimeters. Radiation-dose metrics (fluoroscopy time, air kerma [AK] and dose area product [DAP]), and physician-level radiation doses were compared among RHC, RHC with EMB, CA, and PCI.


      Included in the study were 351 cardiac catheterization procedures. Of these, 36 (10.3%) were RHC, 42 (12%) RHC with EMB, 156 (44.4%) CA, and 117 (33.3%) PCI. RHC with EMB and CA had similar fluoroscopy time. AK and DAP were progressively higher for RHC, RHC with EMB, CA, and PCI. Head-level physician radiation doses were similar for RHC with EMB vs CA (P = 0.07). When physicians’ radiation doses were normalized to DAP, RHC and RHC with EMB had the highest doses.


      Physicians’ head-level radiation doses during RHC with EMB were similar to those of CA. After normalizing to DAP, RHC and RHC with EMB were associated with significantly higher physician radiation doses than CA or PCI. These observations suggest that additional protective measures should be undertaken to decrease physicians’ radiation exposure during RHC and, in particular, RHC with EMB.

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