Being a radiologist can be a pain in the neck, ACR survey finds

Radiologists responsible for identifying health issues in their patients may be experiencing their own while in the reading room. According to an article published March 20 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, the rise of PACS and digital reading rooms is contributing to work-related musculoskeletal injuries among radiologists.  

"The current digital environment and PACS workstations have almost certainly contributed to the development of musculoskeletal injuries in radiologists," wrote lead author Jay Parikh, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "Long hours sitting at workstations, use of nonergonomic chairs, failure to take breaks from sitting, and sitting in awkward positions likely all contribute to low back pain, neck pain, and repetitive stress injuries in radiologists." 

Researchers analyzed responses submitted by radiologists for the 2017 ACR Human Resources Commission workforce regarding experiences with neck pain, back pain, or repetitive stress injuries.  The survey was sent to 1,811 leaders of radiology practices, 477 (26 percent) of whom responded. Additionally, the practices accumulated a total of 11,056 radiologists or 33 percent of all practicing radiologists in the U.S. 

"Specifically, practice leaders were asked to identify the numbers of radiologists or radiation oncologists they had supervised within the past five years in their practice who had experienced neck pain, back pain, or a repetitive stress injury," the researchers wrote.  

Parikh and colleagues found that 25 percent of radiologists reported having neck pain, 32 percent low back pain and 16 percent a repetitive stress injury.

Researchers suggested radiology practices implement more strategies to help reduce musculoskeletal injuries for imaging practitioners. These strategies include integrating ergonomic solutions to radiologists' work area and creating a positive work environment to improve job satisfaction through specialty specific strategies, such as evaluating the design of interventional radiology reading rooms.