That has been a real concern of mine also. I recently had a nuclear stress test (my first) which I had put off for years, but finally felt was appropriate -- although I am still uneasy with just how high the radiation exposure on those tests really is. Now I am scheduled for an EP study and possible ablation in September (which I have also put of for years, but which now also seems appropriate) and this could mean a further hefty dose of radiation. I chose my facility and EP specialist in part because they both have avaliable to them, and experience with, mapping and ablation equipment that can lower radiation exposure.
There is now equipment available using magnetic and robotic navigation which reduces the amount of radiation exposure to both the patient and the staff. Not all facilities are equipped with this technology and not all physicians have been trained to use it, and it is not appropriate in all patients in all cases, but the preliminary study results show that this type of equipment not only cuts radiation exposure, but (in the right hands used on the right patients) may reduce other risk factors associated with EP studies and ablation as well.
You can ask your EP specialist about this technology, although you may get an answer such as "that type of high end equipment is not needed in your case" -- meaning they either don't have it available, or don't know how to use it, or reserve it for "more complicated" studies and ablation, such as A-Fib because they have only one unit and high demand for it. However, I think it is worth noting that in Europe, they are moving towards a protocol of using ONLY the magnetic navigation equipment and other low radiation technologies developed specificially for use in the EP lab on the majority of patients.
I've had 2 nuke stress tests in 4 years. still here... :-) I read that article from theheart.org as-well. I would just ask your doc about the concern.
i have similar concerns. I had an EP study, many chest xrays, and about fiive chest CTs with contrast. I spoke to a radiology MD about my concerns and he reinforced that these tests do expose you to a relatively large amount of radiation as compared to other tests. He added that how this exactly effects each individual person is impossible to know. Two people can respond very differently to the same amount of radiation exposure. He concluded that in the future it is warranted to consider the amount of radiation exposure with tests and consider the risk/benefit ratio involved. I know this isnt a conclusive answer to your question but this is the best the doctor could offer.
Ptadvoc8, is there a name for this new equipment that uses magnetic navigation and low radiation? As I'm looking for a doctor for second opinion i'd like to be able to ask if they use this technology.
My one GI doctor did tell me i've had enough radiation for the year... and that was two weeks before the nuclear stress!
There are a couple of "brand" names for the magnetic navigation systems, the one I am most familiar with is Niobe Stereotaxis and I believe the research suggests this system might have a slight advantage over the other one I know about, which is called Carto Mapping. Using this equipment does not avoid all radiation exposure with EPS, but it does appear to lessen patient radiation exposure in most cases (as well as exposure for the staff!) and some studies suggest it has other advantages.
Be aware that while this new technology seems to have a lot to offer, the learning curve for using the equipment is pretty steep so if you do find a doc and facility who have this equipment available be sure and ask what training they have had on the equipment, how many procedures they have done using it and what their success and complication rate with it has been.
This equipment is very expensive so most facilities only have one unit and tend to reserve it for A-Fib and other complicated ablation cases in this country, (I believe I just read that A-Fib is now the most common ablation procedure in the US -- surpassing those for SVT -- and one of the fastest growing profitable procedures for many facilities) it seems to be equally advantageous for many other (even so-called "simpler") ablation procedures. One advantage is that they use "soft flex" catheters that can be "driven" with magnetic navigation so can usually obtain highly accurate placement of the tips even around harder-to-reach heart structures for fewer and more focused "burns". Just be aware that this equipment is not appropriate in all cases so when you get that second opinion make sure it is from a specialist you feel confident in and comfortable with so that you get the best care for your individual case.
Radiation exposure is cumulative and as Amy 2217 pointed out, familial genetics and previous exposure history has a lot to with how each individual is affected by it. I think having both patients and doctors who are aware of, and consistently assessing, the risks and benefits of any testing is really important to improving health care delivery, safety and cost effectiveness and in my experience it is often the patients who help the doctors establish the best care protocols by taking the initiative for their own health.
Best wishes and good luck!
the general subject is discussed by one of the docs here as well:
"Will your next xray lead to Cancer?"
by Lee Kirksey, MD
I was concerned about this very thing last week in the hospital. I saw "Will your next xray lead to Cancer?" by Lee Kirksey, MD and posted in hopes maybe he would answer.
Wednesday - I had a tilt table test, Xrays of the chest; EPS & Ablation
Thursday - Xrays of the chest & Cardiac MRI
Friday - Cardiac Cath & Pacemaker/ICD implant
Saturday - Xrays of the chest
HOW much is too much? I was surprised I had to be shocked during ablation with paddles. I have no burns, marks or bruising. What type of current do those paddles use for shocking you back to life?
They told me that many tests in such a short period of time was OK, but it still concerned me.
All of that in 4 days plus 2 sets of CT's & Xrays in the past 2 months - still wondering how much is too much?