During interventional neuroradiology procedures, patients can be exposed to moderate to high levels of radiation. Special considerations are required to protect children, who are generally more sensitive to the short- and long-term detrimental effects of radiation exposure. Estimates of dose to the skin of children from certain interventional procedures have been published elsewhere, but we are not aware of data on dose to the brain or on the long-term risk of cancer from brain radiation.
Our goals were to estimate radiation doses to the brain in 50 pediatric patients who had undergone cerebral embolization and to assess their lifetime risks of developing radiation-related brain cancer.
Materials and methods
Entrance-peak skin dose and various assumptions on conditions of exposure were used as input for dosimetric calculations to estimate the spatial pattern of dose within the brain and the average dose to the whole brain for each child. The average dose and the age of the child at time of exposure were used to estimate the lifetime risk of developing radiation-related brain cancer.
Among the 50 patients, average radiation doses to the brain were estimated to vary from 100 mGy to 1,300 mGy if exposed to non-collimated fields and from 20 mGy to 160 mGy for collimated, moving fields. The lifetime risk of developing brain cancer was estimated to be increased by 2% to 80% as a result of the exposure. Given the very small lifetime background risk of brain tumor, the excess number of cases will be small even though the relative increase might be as high as 80%.
ALARA principles of collimation and dose optimization are the most effective means to minimize the risk of future radiation-related cancer.