Kidney transplant recipients are exposed to large amounts of ionizing radiation from medical imaging as part of their pre-transplant evaluation, a study found.

Anup M. Patel, MD, and colleagues at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., reviewed the medical records of 172 kidney transplant recipients who underwent 905 medical imaging procedures involving ionizing radiation. Of these, 28 (16.3%) were exposed to high dose (more than 50 and up to 100 mSv) and 23 (13.4%) were exposed to very high dose (more than 100 mSv) cumulative effective radiation, according to findings published online ahead of print in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Seventy patients (40.7%) were exposed to low dose (up to 20 mSv) and 51 (29.7%) were exposed to moderate dose (more than 20 and up to 50 mSv) cumulative effective radiation.

Nuclear stress testing accounted for nearly 83% of the total radiation exposure, Dr. Patel’s group reported. In multivariate analysis, older age, the presence of diabetes, and black race were associated with greater than 20 mSv radiation exposure during the pretransplant evaluation.

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“The effects of radiation upon malignancy risk and strategies to reduce this radiation exposure warrant further investigation,” the authors wrote.