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Archive April 2019 XX, No. 4

Reduce the Risk of Radiation Exposure

Proper personal protection and a healthy dose of common sense will limit intraoperative imaging's inherent dangers.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
ADDED LAYERS Lead aprons and thyroid shields protect surgical team members from 95% of scattered radiation.

The next time you need a lesson in radiation safety, pop your head into a procedure room to watch an interventional pain doc at work.

“They’re in front of C-arms all day long, so they respect imaging’s invisible dangers,” says Daniel Kaplan, DO, an orthopedic surgeon at WellSpan Orthopedics, York, Pa. “They step back from the imaging field and clear their hands during every shot, and they always wear the appropriate personal protection equipment. You can tell they’ve been fully educated on radiation safety and receive continuous training.” Your surgeons and staff know the basics of radiation safety, but they might not fully appreciate the risks they face every time a C-arm is wheeled into the OR. No one on your team would consider working a case involving intraoperative imaging without wearing a lead apron, but do they always don leaded eye protection and thyroid shields? They should.

“The thyroid and eyes are extremely sensitive to chronic radiation exposure, which is believed to cause most papillary thyroid cancers and can lead to the formation of cataracts,” says Dr. Kaplan. “Surgeons understand that the eyes are vulnerable to radiation, but current options are bulky and uncomfortable, and they tend to fog up. I don’t wear mine consistently.”

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