Orthopaedic Surgeon Brain Radiation During Fluoroscopy: A Cadaver Model.

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The aims of this study were to quantify exposure of the surgeon’s brain to radiation during short cephalomedullary (SC) nailing, to extrapolate lifetime dose, and to determine the effects of personal protective equipment (PPE) on brain dose.Two cadaveric specimens were used: (1) a whole cadaveric body representing the patient, with a left nail inserted to act as the scatter medium, and (2) an isolated head-and-neck cadaveric specimen representing a surgeon, with radiation dosimeters placed in specific locations in the brain. The “patient” cadaver’s left hip was exposed in posteroanterior and lateral radiographic planes. Measurements were performed without shielding of the head-and-neck specimen and then repeated sequentially with different PPE configurations. An average surgeon career was estimated to be 40 years (ages 25 to 65 years) with the caseload obtained from the department’s billing data.The mean radiation dose to the surgeon brain without PPE was 3.35 µGy (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.4 to 4.3) per nail procedure. This was significantly reduced with use of a thyroid collar (2.94 µGy [95% CI: 1.91 to 3.91], p = 0.04). Compared with use of the thyroid collar in isolation, there was no significant additional reduction in radiation when the collar was used with leaded glasses (2.96 µGy [95% CI: 2.15 to 3.76], p = 0.97), with a lead cap (3.22 µGy [95% CI: 2.31 to 4.13], p = 0.55), or with both (2.31 µGy [95% CI: 1.61 to 3.01], p = 0.15). The extrapolated lifetime dose over 40 working years for SC nailing without PPE was 2,146 µGy (95% CI: 1,539 to 2,753), with an effective dose of 21.5 µSv.The extrapolated cumulative lifetime radiation to a surgeon’s brain from SC nailing based on our institution’s workload and technology is low and comparable with radiation during a one-way flight from London to New York. Of note, we studied only one of many fluoroscopy-aided procedures and likely underestimated total lifetime exposure if exposures from other procedures are included. This study also demonstrates that thyroid collars significantly reduce brain dose for this procedure whereas other head/neck PPE such as lead caps appear to have minimal additional effect. This study provides a methodology for future studies to quantify brain dose for other common orthopaedic procedures.This study, based on our institutional data, demonstrates that although the lifetime brain dose from SC nailing is low, thyroid collars significantly reduce this dose further. As such, in accordance with the “as low as reasonably achievable” radiation exposure principle, radiation safety programs and individual surgeons should consider use of thyroid collars in this setting.

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