Background—A better knowledge of patient x-ray dose and the associated radiation risk in pediatric interventional cardiology is warranted in view of the extensive use of x-rays and the higher radiosensitivity of children. In the present study, -H2AX foci were used as a biomarker for radiation-induced effects. Patient-specific dose was assessed and radiation risks were estimated according to the linear-no-threshold model, commonly used in radiation protection, and the -H2AX foci data.
Methods and Results—In 49 pediatric patients (median age, 0.75 years) with congenital heart disease who underwent cardiac catheterization procedures, blood samples were taken before and shortly after the procedure. -H2AX foci were determined in peripheral blood T lymphocytes. In each patient, a net increase in -H2AX foci, representing DNA double-strand breaks induced by interventional x-rays, was observed. In addition, a patient-specific Monte Carlo simulation of the procedure was performed, resulting in individual blood, organ, and tissue doses. Plotting of -H2AX foci versus blood dose indicated a low-dose hypersensitivity. Median effective doses calculated according to the International Commission on Radiological Protection 60 and 103 publications are 5.6 and 6.4 mSv, respectively. The lifetime-attributable risk of cancer mortality was calculated from the linear-no-threshold model and the -H2AX foci data. This resulted in lifetime-attributable risk values of 1% and 4%, respectively, for the patient population under study.
Conclusions—-H2AX foci as a biomarker for DNA damage indicate that radiation risk estimates according to the linear-no-threshold hypothesis are possibly underestimates. Great care should be taken to minimize and optimize patient radiation exposure.