Prevalence of Thyroid Diseases in an Occupationally Radiation Exposed Group: A Cross-Sectional Study in a University Hospital of Southern Italy

Author(s): Luigi Vimercati, Luigi De Maria, Francesca Mansi, Antonio Caputi, Giovanni M. Ferri, Vito Luisi, Piero Lovreglio, Enza S.S. Cannone, Pietro Lorusso, Maria F. Gatti, Chiara R.S. Massagli, Vincenzo Triggiani*

Journal Name: Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders - Drug Targets
(Formerly Current Drug Targets - Immune, Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders)

Volume 19 , Issue 6 , 2019

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Graphical Abstract:


Background: Thyroid diseases occur more frequently in people exposed to ionizing radiation, but the relationship between occupational exposure to ionizing radiation and thyroid pathologies still remains unclear.

Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of thyroid diseases in healthcare workers exposed to low-level ionizing radiation compared with a control group working at the University Hospital of Bari, Southern Italy, and living in the same geographical area, characterized by mild iodine deficiency.

Methods: We ran a cross-sectional study to investigate whether healthcare workers exposed to ionizing radiation had a higher prevalence of thyroid diseases. Four hundred and forty-four exposed healthcare workers (241 more exposed, or “A Category”, and 203 less exposed, or “B Category”) and 614 nonexposed healthcare workers were enrolled during a routine examination at the Occupational Health Unit. They were asked to fill in an anamnestic questionnaire and undergo a physical examination, serum determination of fT3, fT4 and TSH, anti-TPO ab and anti-TG ab and ultrasound neck scan. Thyroid nodules were submitted to fine needle aspiration biopsy when indicated.

Results: The prevalence of thyroid diseases was statistically higher in the exposed workers compared to controls (40% vs 29%, adPR 1.65; IC95% 1.34-2.07). In particular, the thyroid nodularity prevalence in the exposed group was approximately twice as high as that in the controls (29% vs 13%; adPR 2.83; IC95% 2.12-3.8). No statistically significant association was found between exposure to ionizing radiation and other thyroid diseases.

Conclusion: In our study, mild ionizing radiation-exposed healthcare workers had a statistically higher prevalence of thyroid diseases than the control group. The results are likely due to a closer and more meticulous health surveillance programme carried out in the ionising radiation-exposed workers, allowing them to identify thyroid alterations earlier than non-exposed health staff.

Keywords: Ionising radiation, healthcare workers, occupational exposure, thyroid diseases, prevalence, radiation exposed.

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Article Details

Year: 2019
Page: [803 - 808]
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.2174/1871530318666181102114627
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