elperro

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I'm an ignorant second-year student. Radiology is appealing to me as I set up third year electives for many reasons. Could someone please educate me or direct me to some information on if/what the radiation exposure dangers are in Diagnostic, and more specifically Interventional radiology? Is radiation exposure a worry for you? Thanks!
 

f_w

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> Is radiation exposure a worry for you? Thanks

Yes and No.

In the 1930's, the age of giants, radiologists died young and blind. Many from sarcomas of the hands. (But again, back then people were testing the power of a cobalt source by putting the back of their hand into the beam counting the seconds until the skin turns red.)

Then there was a time when an elevated risk for thyroid cancer and lymphoma was shown to afflict rads.

For the past 40 years or so, the teaching has been that radiologists die of old age (or running their flashy sportscar into a bridge abutment). Studies on the health of general radiologists did not seem to indicate an undue burden of radiation associated malignancies (and most of their kids look pretty normal too).

Recently however, studies have looked at the incidence of posterior subcapsular cataract in IR's, and it looks like the risk is considerably increased, particularly for the left eye. Also, many people in rads have anecdotal knowledge of people who developed unexpected malignancies. (The stats don't seem to bear that out, but a healthy level of worry is probably in order.)

95% of diagnostic radiology is practiced sitting in front of a multiviewer or PACS workstation with negligible occupational exposure. Your main health risks are ulcers from too much coffee and heart disease from the lack of exercise.

Many IRs and specifically interventional cardiologists are very cavalier about the radiation risks, try not to make them your model (and then there are our friends the orthopods. Some of them think that a mini-C-arm doesn't use X-rays. What was that again, twice the strength of an oxen....)

If you...
- are meticulous about radiation protection
- don't do percutaneous nephrostomies while beeing 6 wks pregnant
- are not too lazy to move your butt out of the angio room during injection runs

...the risk is not 0 but justifyable.
 
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elperro

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Thanks F_W, great post. I like sportscars, that may be more worrisome.
 
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hans19

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elperro said:
Thanks F_W, great post. I like sportscars, that may be more worrisome.
The X-rays are a known carcinogen. Just remember the ALARA principle.
 

Amxcvbcv

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I'd be more worried about the radiology techs doing the actual procedures. ;)
 

medstudent123

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thanks f_w, i was wondering the same thing myself.

my question is, if the radiologists aren't exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, why are they being paid so much? what's their income like?
 

f_w

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> my question is, if the radiologists aren't exposed to dangerous levels
> of radiation, why are they being paid so much? what's their income like?

I don't like this line of questioning.

If you want to get numbers, go next door in the ******ed 'job offers' thread. Or go over into the neurology forum (if you thought Matthew Hale is a bit off. To find REAL vile and hatred you have to check out the 'disturbing article or hot air' and 'war with radiology' threads)
 

stephew

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rather than worrying about particular fields being overpaid, i suggest we concern ourselves with individuals. First we acknoweldge that not all medical students are of the character we hope doctors should be. Then, those who over time indicate that they haven't progressed intellectually and emotionally far beyond that of the average high school student should receive a lower income regardless of field. Can you imagine people knocking each other over to get on that review board?
 

medstudent123

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ok, geez... sorry. i'm just a passer by. I didn't know future radiologists were so defensive about their income...
 

f_w

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We just can't stand the same dumb questions over and over again.
It is less of an issue why rads make more than a few other specialties these days, but why physicians as a whole have not kept up with the overall income development.
 

medstudent123

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f_w said:
We just can't stand the same dumb questions over and over again.
It is less of an issue why rads make more than a few other specialties these days, but why physicians as a whole have not kept up with the overall income development.
well can you give a straight answer? call me dumb, but you haven't answered the question.

well anyways, don't bother answering. i was just a passerby. you can relax , i didn't mean to threaten your sense of self worth by questioning your income.
 

f_w

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Why do car mechanics make more money than hairdressers ? Hairdressers are after all exposed to all these harmful chemicals.

Rads get paid for the service they provide to patient and hospital, not for the amount of ionizing radiation they take.

And I did give you an answer: It has been discussed here before. If you cared to look in the thread I pointed you to, you could see some numbers if that is what you are looking for.
 

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medstudent123 said:
well can you give a straight answer? call me dumb, but you haven't answered the question.
They don't know you and they certainly don't know whether you are dumb or not. In fact you may be a genius and much more intelligent than us all. But, you might agree that you have not presented yourself as particularly smart on this thread. Here's why:

medstudent123 said:
my question is, if the radiologists aren't exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, why are they being paid so much? what's their income like?
1. If you don't know their income, how do you stipulate they're being paid so much?

2. Have you considered that it's conceivable that people may be still be paid much without being "exposed to dangerous levels of radiation?" A better bet may have been to think that maybe it has do with the fact that their expertise is needed for patient care, they provide valuable services which requires a lengthy training and lots of medical knowledge, utility of their services has grown exponentially, there is a national shortage of them, etc. Essentially, a lot of things to consider before tying radiologists' income solely to dangers of radiation. If a junior high student had asked that question, people wouldn't have been tough on him/her, but I guess they expect more from a med student.

BTW, it seems that Stephew is a "radiation oncologist" rather than a "radiologist" (see the signature below his post if you didn't notice). Now, if you don't know the difference between these two types of physician, we'll be happy to explain that, as it is a very appropriate question for a medical student looking into these two seemingly similar fields.
 

medstudent123

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Docxter said:
They don't know you and they certainly don't know whether you are dumb or not. In fact you may be a genius and much more intelligent than us all. But, you might agree that you have not presented yourself as particularly smart on this thread. Here's why:



1. If you don't know their income, how do you stipulate they're being paid so much?

2. Have you considered that it's conceivable that people may be still be paid much without being "exposed to dangerous levels of radiation?" A better bet may have been to think that maybe it has do with the fact that their expertise is needed for patient care, they provide valuable services which requires a lengthy training and lots of medical knowledge, utility of their services has grown exponentially, there is a national shortage of them, etc. Essentially, a lot of things to consider before tying radiologists' income solely to dangers of radiation. If a junior high student had asked that question, people wouldn't have been tough on him/her, but I guess they expect more from a med student.

BTW, it seems that Stephew is a "radiation oncologist" rather than a "radiologist" (see the signature below his post if you didn't notice). Now, if you don't know the difference between these two types of physician, we'll be happy to explain that, as it is a very appropriate question for a medical student looking into these two seemingly similar fields.
well thank you for your mature response. i guess i did come off sounding bad.

but the reason i asked those questions was i had always assumed radiologists get exposed to a low level of radiation, and that is what often deters medical students from entering the field. If it's not the radiation, then what is keeping radiology from becoming The most competitive field? I know it is very competitive, but it's not like derm.

i guess a better question is this: what aspects of their profession are many radiologists not satisfied with?
 

f_w

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> but the reason i asked those questions was i had always assumed
> radiologists get exposed to a low level of radiation,

You are correct. Along with other specialties using fluoroscopy or working in OR's where it is used (ortho, cards, neuosurg, gas), radiologists are exposed to ionizing radiation. This is highly variable, depending on the type of practice setting you work in (6day/week neurointerventional jockey vs. rads in an outpatient imaging center without fluoro to name the two extremes). As I pointed out above, it is generally believed that there are no untoward effects on our health.

> and that is what often deters medical students from entering the field.

Some people are unreasonably afraid of this. In this regard, the original poster was NOT an 'ignorant 2nd year' but is asking a valid question.

> , then what is keeping radiology from becoming The most competitive field?

Don't know what keeps medstudents from applying these days.
What kept me away from doing it for a couple of years was the fear of 'not taking care of patients' and 'sitting in a dark room all day'. After 2 years in a clinical residency I realized that the key advantages of radiolgy are: 'not taking care of patients' and 'sitting in a dark room all day'.

There are plenty of other specialties which offer more 'excitement'. The same caliber people applying for rads these days could go into surgery, ENT or optho, and many do.

> I know it is very competitive, but it's not like derm.

That is bc we actually have to work nights and weekends. We can't put a message 'if you experience a medical emergency, call 911' on our office answering machine and take off to our condo in Aspen. Derm can.

> i guess a better question is this: what aspects of their profession
> are many radiologists not satisfied with?

That IS the better question. Rads are unhappy about:

- unreasonably demanding clinicians with a limited grasp of what imaging can and can't do.
- not being given the necessary clinical information to provide a meaningful image interpretation (the same docs will bitch to you about the resulting vague reports).
- perpetually increasing nighttime workload. Mostly from the ED. Often flimsy indications.
- increasing demands from hospitals regarding coverage and provision of services (a what, a STAT PICC-line ?).
- the fact that they are working harder and harder and that the incomes remain constant.

But I can assure you that radiation exposure is not one of the issues practicing radiologists are unhappy with.
 
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