Nine brain-cancer cases reported in Interventionalists

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Researchers in Israel and France have found a few cases that suggest interventional cardiologists and radiologists may be at risk for left-side brain tumors.

In the January 2012 issue of Eurointervention, Dr Ariel Roguin (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel) and colleagues publish the summary of nine reports of brain tumors in people working in catheterization laboratories for 14 to 32 years. In two cases in Haifa, Israel and two in Paris, the tumor was confirmed to be on the left side. In two cases in Toronto from 1998, the side of the tumor was also on the left side. In three cases in Sweden, the side of the tumor is unknown. The types of tumor reported include glioblastomas, meningiomas, acoustic neurinomas and oligodendromas.

Chronic exposure to low-dose radiation such as that used in interventional cardiology can cause damage to somatic DNA that may be cumulative over time and increase the risk of cancer.

Interventional cardiologists have the highest radiation exposure among health professionals, and existing radiation shield devices for physicians do not usually provide much protection for the head. [Heartwire]

Tattoos to warn of medical conditions

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An increasing number of Americans are turning to medical tattoos to warn emergency responders about important medical conditions. However, “It’s unclear whether an ambulance crew racing to treat a gravely ill patient could honor a request…based on a “tattoo alone.” Moreover, it’s questionable whether medics or doctors would be under any obligation to honor end-of-life instructions in a tattoo, unless they could be sure the patient also had signed legally binding papers. [AMA News]