DOI: 10.1093/jbcr/irae008 ISSN: 1559-047X

A Case of Local Radiation Injury in the Creation of Lichtenburg Art

Lindsay A Janes, Uswa Iqbal, Gary A Vercruysse
  • Rehabilitation
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Surgery


Despite the fact that there may be no immediate outward signs of tissue destruction, the ultimate damage caused by radiation exposure is immediate and may be predicted based on the source, length of exposure, and type of tissue to which the radiation is exposed. Although predictable, difficulty in caring for these patients stems from the multiple sources of radiation to which people may be exposed, the various parts of the body exposed, the dose involved, the rarity of the condition, and a general lack of knowledge on the part of treating physicians. Due to these factors, there is significant variation in treatment recommendations. Additionally, knowledge about how to treat these injuries is limited and often very difficult to access, even among healthcare professionals. This report highlights the first known case of localized radiation injury secondary to the utilization of a linear accelerator to generate Lichtenberg art. In this case, an accident occurred while working with a retired accelerator and led to severe local radiation injury to this patient’s bilateral hands, prompting a series of searches and inquiries as to the next best step in management. From consulting clinicians at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who are experts in managing radiation injury to the eventual need for digit amputation, this case highlights the profound lack of knowledge and accessible resources for clinicians and patients facing localized radiation injury. This is a noninterventional observation case report without the requirement of ethical approval.

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