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Radiation-Exposure Injuries

Radiation Exposure Injuries

The tables below show the symptoms that manifest with localized cutaneous radiation injury, acute radiation syndrome, and lethal doses of radiation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Table 1. Clinical Symptoms of Localized Cutaneous Radiation Injury (Open Table in a new window)

Localized Cutaneous Injury

Clinical Symptoms

3 Gy

Hair loss

6 Gy


10-15 Gy

Dry desquamation

20-50 Gy

Wet desquamation

50 Gy

Cutaneous necrosis and ulceration

Table 2. Clinical Symptoms of Acute Radiation Syndrome (Open Table in a new window)

Acute Radiation Syndrome

Clinical Symptoms

>0.7 Gy

Hematopoietic syndrome – anemia, neutropenia

>10 Gy

Gastrointestinal syndrome – nausea, vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, anorexia, bloody diarrhea

>20 Gy

Cerebrovascular syndrome – cerebral edema, ataxia, hypotension, convulsions

Table 3. Clinical Symptoms of Whole Body Lethal Doses of Radiation (Open Table in a new window)

Lethal Doses

Clinical Symptoms

3.5 Gy

Lethal without treatment at 60 days

>7 Gy

Lethal with treatment at 60 days

>100 Gy

Lethal within hours


In March 2015, filgrastim (Neupogen) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase survival in patients acutely exposed to myelosuppressive doses of radiation (suspected or confirmed exposure to radiation >2 Gy).

A June 2015 update on radiation-related injuries and their management was published by Wunderle and Gill.

See the image below.

Japanese man with injuries after atomic bombing. C

Japanese man with injuries after atomic bombing. Courtesy of US Military (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons.

For more information on radiation injuries and decontamination, see the Medscape topics CBRNE – Radiation Emergencies and External Decontamination for Radiation Exposure.

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