Real-time staff dose radiation monitoring
Exposure to radiation due to the increasing use of minimally invasive image-guided diagnosis and treatment of disease, continues to grow rapidly. The sheer volume and length of interventional radiology (IR) procedures is placing medical professionals–as well as their patients–in greater jeopardy than they might imagine. In one example of the expansion of these practices, the total number of imaging and radio diagnostic tests performed in England during the decade from 2002-2003 to 2012-2013 grew at an average annual rate ranging from 12.0 percent for MRIs, 10.3 percent for CT scans, 5.2 percent for ultrasounds and 1.5 percent for x-rays1. In particular, radiation monitoring is an issue. Thankfully, there are solutions that can keep radiation exposure to a minimum for those who are frequently exposed during both diagnostic and interventional procedures. These require changes to education and tradition and current thinking, but they are invaluable to the long-term health of the medical sta and patients and bene cial to the overall health of the institution.
Time to mandate awareness and build a strong radiation safety culture
Medical institutions must embrace the fact that proactive management of occupational radiation exposure is necessary to achieve the goal of radiation reduction for all individuals working in interventional and diagnostic labs. The adoption of real-time sta dosimetry (RTSD) can jump-start meaningful change. Used in conjunction with other tools and techniques available today, such as personal, equipment-mounted and architectural radiation shielding, RTSD can be a critical component in building a safe environment.
RTSD is easy to use, set up, install, and implement by digitally assigning a dosimeter badge to each participant. Active dosimetry provides all exposed medical personnel with real-time feedback on their personal exposure and an opportunity to immediately evaluate and/or adjust their behaviors.
In the longer term, real-time radiation dosimetry systems save dose data enabling medical facilities to conduct thorough post-procedure reviews and analysis, and incorporate new or better practices where indicated.
A recent study by Dr. Peter Drescher, Davina Winandy and Tracey Marshall on real-time staff dosimetry during vertebral augmentation at Aurora West Allis Medical Center revealed a significant reduction in sta radiation dose due to RTSD. RTSD measured radiation exposure for the attending physician, scrub technologist, circulating technologist and anesthesiologist. The X-ray system measured and provided information about the fluoroscopic time and dose area product while the RTSD system provided dose and dose rate readings for the sta during the procedure to immediately evaluate and/or adjust their behaviors. After this study, under the guidance of Dr. Drescher, new processes and procedures were implemented to increase radiation awareness, the stringent use of radiation protective devices, resulting in the complete revision of the entire work ow.2