Radiation-induced skin injury after complex endovascular procedures

Melissa L. Kirkwood, Gary M. Arbique, Jeffrey B. Guild, Carlos Timaran, R. James Valentine, Jon A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: Radiation-induced skin injury is a serious potential complication of fluoroscopically guided interventions. Transient erythema occurs at doses of 2 to 5 Gy, whereas permanent epilation, ulceration, and desquamation are expected at doses above this level. Complex endovascular procedures (CEPs), such as fenestrated endovascular aortic aneurysm repair (FEVAR), are associated with high radiation doses, yet the prevalence of radiation-induced skin injury is unknown. We hypothesized that skin injury after these exposures is likely to be underrecognized and underreported. This study examined the frequency and severity of deterministic effects and evaluated patient characteristics that might predispose to radiation injury in CEP. Methods: CEP was defined as a procedure with a radiation dose ≥5 Gy (National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements threshold for substantial radiation dose level [SRDL]). Radiation dose and operating factors were recorded for all CEPs performed in a hybrid room during a 30-month period. Patient medical records were retrospectively reviewed for evidence of skin injury. Patients were seen in follow-up daily until discharge and then at weeks 2 and 6, months 3 and 6, and 1 year. Phone interviews were conducted to determine the presence of any skin-related complaints. Peak skin dose (PSD) distributions were calculated for FEVARs with custom software employing input data from fluoroscopic machine logs. These calculations were validated against Gafchromic film (Ashland Inc, Covington, Ky) measurements. Dose was summed for the subset of patients with multiple procedures within 6 months of the SRDL event, consistent with Joint Commission recommendations. Results: Sixty-one CEPs reached a reference air kerma (RAK) of 5 Gy (50 FEVARs, six embolizations, one thoracic endovascular aortic repair, one endovascular aneurysm repair, one carotid intervention, and two visceral interventions). The patient cohort was 79% male and had a mean body mass index of 31. The average RAK was 8 ± 2 Gy (5.0-15.9 Gy). Sixteen patients had multiple CEPs within 6 months of the SRDL event, with a mean cumulative RAK of 12 ± 3 Gy (7.0-18.4 Gy). The mean FEVAR PSD was 6.6 ± 3.6 Gy (3.7-17.8 Gy), with a mean PSD/RAK ratio of 0.78. Gafchromic film dose measurements were not statistically different from PSD estimations, with a constant of proportionality of 0.99. Three patients were lost to follow-up before their first postoperative visit. No radiation skin injuries were found. Conclusions: This study represents the largest analysis of deterministic skin injury after CEPs, and our results suggest that it is less frequent than expected and not increased in CEPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)742-748
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

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