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Breast-Imaging Radiologists Risk Repetitive Stress Injury


Breast-imaging radiologists are at a higher risk for developing repetitive stress injuries, particularly after implementation of PACS.

Radiologists who work in breast imaging are more prone to developing repetitive stress injury (RSI), according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from Stanford University in Stanford, CA and Simmons College in Boston, MA undertook a study to determine the prevalence of RSI among breast-imaging radiologists following the implementation of PACS, as well as the associated factors and injury reduction strategies.

The researchers sent out an anonymous email survey regarding RSI and radiologists’ work habits to 2,618 members of the Society of Breast Imaging. A total of 727 responses (27.8%) were returned.

The survey asked about pain levels before and after digital imaging was implemented, hours spent in front of their work station, use of digital or analog mammography, mouse use, and ergonomic positioning, and if the radiologists had any history of RSI.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"28135","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_9657958129548","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2819","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 166px; width: 166px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The results showed that 438 (60.2%) of the 727 respondents reporting having symptoms of RSI, with 242 (33.3%) of them having prior diagnosis and/or treatment. There was a statistically significant trend for the odds of RSI symptoms to increase with decreasing age or increasing number of hours at work, the authors wrote.

There was a significant increase in pain levels associated with the implementation of PACS. There was a noted decrease in pain if the respondents had received ergonomic training or had begun to use ergonomic equipment (mouse, chair, table), however, only 129 respondents (17.7%) used an ergonomic mouse and 97 (13.3%) had received ergonomic training.

Radiologists who did not have previous symptoms or diagnosis of repetitive stress syndrome (RSS) were less likely to want future ergonomic training than those who had experienced the problem before.

The researchers concluded that not only was RSI prevalent among breast-imaging radiologists nationwide, but that the injury may worsen after implementation of PACS or with longer work hours.

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