Infections in Radiation Accidents

An Overview
  • Stephen C. Schimpff


Although the radiation-injured patient may develop cellular immune deficiency or humoral immune deficiency, the major predisposing factor to infection, especially in the short term, is granulocytopenia. Infections associated with intravascular devices and as a consequence of blood product infusions occur too. As a result, most infections are caused by the aerobic gram-negative rods Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, along with the gram-positive cocci Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Streptococcus species. The sites of infection are principally the oral cavity and associated structures (for example, sinusitis, periodontitis, pharyngitis, and local mucositis); the distal third of the esophagus; the lungs (pneumonitis); the colon (bacteremia related to translocation); perianal lesions; and sites of skin damage, such as vascular catheter exit sites. Other infections, especially bacteremias, are associated with the catheter itself. Most infections are caused by organisms colonizing the patient, and more than half of these are acquired during hospitalization. Treatment of infections during granulocytopenia has been discussed in detail.1,2


Alimentary Canal Granulocyte Count Radiation Accident Exit Site Infection Granulocyte Transfusion 
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    Therapy for Immunocompromised Patients. Combined Symposium Proceedings, Kyoto, Japan. S. C. Schimpff, J. Klastersky, and I-1. Gaya, Eds. Am J Med 80(5C), 1986.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schimpff, S. C. Infections in the compromised host—an overview. In: Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 3rd edition. G. L. Mandell, R. G. Douglas, Jr., and J. E. Bennett, Eds. Churchill Livingstone, New York, 1990, pp. 2258 – 2265.Google Scholar
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    Pizzo, P. A., and Schimpff, S. C. Strategies for the prevention of infection in the myelosuppressed cancer patient. Cancer Treat Rep 67: 223 – 234, 1983.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen C. Schimpff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Maryland Medical SystemBaltimoreUSA

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