Occupational Health and the Cath Lab | Journal Scan

Study Questions:

Is the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal pain, cancer, and other medical conditions higher among physicians and allied staff who work in interventional laboratories compared with employees who do not?


The authors surveyed employees of the Mayo Clinic system working in affiliated hospitals with interventional cardiology or interventional radiology laboratories. Results were stratified based on self-reported occupational exposure to procedures that involve radiation.


A total of 1,543 employees (mean age, 43 years ± 11.3; 33% male) responded to the survey (response rate of 57%). The mean age was 43 years and one third of the respondents were male. The majority (1,042, 67.5%) reported being involved with procedures utilizing radiation, and this group reported experiencing work-related pain more often than the control group before (54.7% vs. 44.7%; p < 0.001) and after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, pre-existing musculoskeletal conditions, years in profession, and job description (odds ratio, 1.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.32-2.11; p < 0.001). Musculoskeletal pain varied significantly by job description, with the highest incidence reported by technicians (62%) and nurses (60%) followed by attending physicians (44%) and trainees (19%) (p < 0.001). Cancer prevalence did not differ between groups (9% vs. 9%; p = 0.96).


The authors concluded that musculoskeletal pain, but not cancer, is more common among health care workers who participate in interventional procedures.


This study confirms that the privilege of working in the catheterization laboratory comes at the cost of some pain. Catheterization laboratory staff are attuned to radiation protection and most institutions do a remarkable job of limiting occupational radiation exposure. This, however, adds to musculoskeletal strain and probably explains the results of the study. This study should serve as a call for action to develop better ergonomic tools to reduce chronic occupational injury among catheterization laboratory staff.

Clinical Topics: Invasive Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention, Interventions and Imaging, Angiography, Nuclear Imaging

Keywords: Catheterization, Musculoskeletal Pain, Occupational Exposure, Occupational Injuries, Radiation Protection, Radiology, Interventional, Control Groups, Neoplasms, Work, Angiography

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