Complex pleural space infections are commonly managed with antibiotics, pleural drainage, intrapleural fibrinolytic therapy, and surgery. These strategies often utilize radiographic imaging during management, however little data is available on cumulative radiation exposure received during inpatient management. We aimed to identify the type and quantity of radiographic studies along with the resultant radiation exposure during the management of complex pleural space infections.
Retrospective review of community network healthcare system from January 2015 to July 2018. Patients were identified through billing databases as receiving intrapleural fibrinolytic therapy and/or surgical intervention. Patient demographics, clinical outcomes, and inpatient radiographic imaging was collected to calculate cumulative effective dose.
A total of 566 patients were identified with 7275 total radiographic studies performed and a median cumulative effective dose of 16.9 (IQR 9.9-26.3) mSv. Multivariable linear regression analysis revealed computed tomography use was associated with increased cumulative dose, whereas increased age was associated with lower cumulative dose. Over 74% of patients received more than 10 mSv, with 7.4% receiving more than 40 mSv.
The number of radiographic studies and overall cumulative effective dose in patients hospitalized for complex pleural space infection was high with the median cumulative effective dose > 5 times normal yearly exposure. Ionizing radiation and modern radiology techniques have revolutionized medical care, but are likely not without risk. Additional study is warranted to identify the frequency and imaging type needed during complex pleural space infection management, attempting to keep ionizing radiation exposure as low as reasonably possible.