Workplace exposures

Audible monitor reduces radiation exposure to health workers: study

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xray-patient

Photo: John Lund/Blend Images/Thinkstock

Dallas – A beeping monitor that detects radiation exposure during certain heart procedures can help protect medical workers, according to a recent study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Researchers analyzed workers who treated more than 500 patients undergoing diagnostic coronary angiography – which uses dye and X-rays to check blood flow in the heart arteries – or percutaneous coronary intervention, such as stent placement.

In one group, workers wore a standard dosimetry badge that was measured for radiation after a month. In the other group, workers wore a device that beeped every 15 minutes when radiation was low, once every 20 seconds when radiation was high, and constantly when radiation was extreme.

Results showed that the workers who wore the audible device were exposed to about one-third less radiation.

A university press release states that no dose of radiation is safe. The researchers recommended that workers decrease exposure by decreasing fluoroscopy time and the number of X-ray images taken of the coronary arteries per second; repositioning the patient, the worker or the radiation shield; and adding to shielding.

The study was published in the December issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.