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The cutaneous radiation syndrome: diagnosis and treatment

  • R. U. Peter (a1), M. Steinert (a1) and P. Gottlöber (a1)

Abstract

Accidental exposure to ionising radiation may occur during such catastrophic events as the Chernobyl accident in 1986 or for days and weeks as in Goiania in 1987 and in the military camp during the training of soldiers in Lilo/Georgia in 1997 as well as in medical institutions. The cutaneous symptoms after radiation exposure are based on a combination of inflammatory processes and alteration of cellular proliferation as a result of a specific pattern of transcriptionally activated proinflammatoric cytokines and growth factors. They follow a time course consisting of prodromal erythema, manifestation, chronic stage, late stage and they are referred to as Cutaneous Radiation Syndrome. The time course depends on several factors such as the applied radiation dose, radiation quality, individual radiation sensitivity, the extent of contamination and absorption and volume of the skin. For diagnostics of the cutaneous radiation syndrome the following procedures are used: 7.5 MHz to 20 MHz-B-scan-sonography, thermography, capillary microscopy, profilometry, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, bone scintigraphy and histology. Based on the results of experimental and clinical research of the last years pharmacotherapy of the cutaneous radiation syndrome includes topic or systemic application of corticosteroids, gamma-interferon, pentoxifylline and vitamin E and superoxide dismutase. The treatment depends on the stage of the cutaneous radiation syndrome. Due to the complexity of the clinical manifestations of radiation disease in most patients an interdisciplinary treatment in specialised centres is necessary. Dermatologists are asked to perform in most cases life-long therapy and follow-up of the patients.

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The cutaneous radiation syndrome: diagnosis and treatment

  • R. U. Peter (a1), M. Steinert (a1) and P. Gottlöber (a1)

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