The increasing use of minimally invasive orthopedic procedures has led to a greater reliance on fluoroscopy, resulting in elevated radiation exposure for surgeons.
Improving radiation protection will enhance the quality of life for the cath lab. Heavy protective lead aprons, moveable shields, and poor ergonomics remain barriers to a safer environment. Innovations in shielding systems will permit the CCL team to work in a personal “lead-free” environment.
Lead-free, lead-composite garments, and 0.25-mm and 0.35-mm lead aprons are up to 30% lighter. Still, bench testing for radiation transmission has yielded variable results compared with the standard 0.5-mm lead garment, thus questioning the safety of these devices regarding radiation protection.
Renewed attention has focused on the occupational health hazards posed by working in the fluoroscopic laboratory. Accumulated occupational radiation exposure is associated with health risks to physicians, nurses, and technologists working in this environment.
The radiation dose received by cardiologists during percutaneous coronary interventions, electrophysiology procedures, and other interventional cardiology procedures can vary by more than an order of magnitude for the same type of procedure and for similar patient doses.
A successful Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory radiation safety program must manage patient and staff safety by reducing exposure to ionizing radiation to a level that is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).