As a case in point, there has been an alarming increase in the global epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases; India has 32 million people suffering from heart disease.
As a result, Cath Labs in hospitals are witnessing an exponential increase in the number of angiography and angioplasty procedures carried out in a day. The more the numbers of procedures, the more the quanta of radiation exposure medical professionals are being subjected to.
Understanding the risks of radiation exposure during Image Guided Surgical Procedures:
Overexposure to radiation may lead to multitude of severe health effects.
Exposure to a very high dose of radiation over a short period of time can produce acute effects such as redness of skin, hair loss, radiation burns, or even acute radiation syndrome. These are known as the deterministic effects of radiation exposure.
Exposure to low dose scatter radiation over an extended period of time may lead to a significant risk of long-term effects such as cancer, which may appear years or even decades later. These are known as the stochastic effects of radiation exposure.
It is important to protect medical professionals against the stochastic effects of radiation exposure. Because the effects of exposure are not immediately apparent, it is often ignored and procedures are performed every single day all across the world without optimum protection. The scatter radiation stealthily acts as a silent killer.
One of the biggest challenges is the lack of awareness on the need of adequate radiation protection measures for medical professionals. While the use of radiation protection aprons is fairly common, that alone might not be enough since the eyes and the hands as well are constantly being exposed to scattered radiation.
During a procedure, the hands are occasionally exposed to the direct x-ray beam while the eyes receive a major quantum of the scattered radiation. The use of radiation protection eyewear and gloves is therefore essential.
Low dose exposure to radiation can lead to cataracts and even permanent damage to the lens.
Radiation protection measures to be adopted during Image Guided Procedures:
- Use of appropriate radiation protection apparel, it will attenuate 90% or more of the incident scattered radiation.
- Wearing protective eyewear, particularly those incorporating side protections. Lead glasses having a minimum of 0.75 mm lead equivalence are ideal.
- Use of sterile rad-shields and radiation protection gloves during interventional procedures.
- Increase one’s distance from the radiation source and patient while performing the procedure. For example, working at 80 cm instead of 40 cm can decrease scattered dose to approximately a quarter of the original dose.
- Monitor one’s radiation exposure and maintain data to understand the level of exposure per operation.
The author is the CEO of Kiran Medical Systems, Radiology Division of Trivitron Healthcare