Study Presented at CIRSE Explores Ocular Radiation Exposure and Role of Protective Eyewear

 

September 22, 2017—Gerard Goh, MBBS, FRANZCR, EBIR, and colleagues presented data at CIRSE 2017, the annual congress of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe held September 16–20 in Copenhagen, Denmark, that showed many physicians and staff performing interventional procedures could exceed recommended ocular radiation dose limits if not wearing protective glasses. Dr. Goh is affiliated with The Alfred Hospital and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The Alfred Hospital’s interventional radiology (IR) group sought to prospectively evaluate radiation exposure to the lens of the eye among its operators over a 12-month period and compare it with the yearly dose limits established by the 2013 International Common on Radiation Protection’s recommended standards. To do so, they placed thermoluminescent dosimeters both outside and behind the lead glasses worn by the IR team and staff. The investigators believe this is the first study to directly assess ocular exposure over the course of a year as opposed to basing exposure calculations on estimating the number of procedures performed.

The investigators determined that IR team members working 3 to 4 days per week without lead glasses would exceed annual and lifetime recommended exposure limitations to their eyes. However, wearing lead glasses appeared to allow team members to be present in procedures even up to 5 days per week without exceeding those limits. The study found that lead glasses of 0.035 mm Pb equivalent reduced radiation dose exposure by an average of 79%.

“Our study is important because there is currently no recommendation on the use of lead glasses for interventional radiologists or even interventional cardiologists and vascular surgeons,” said Dr. Goh in comments to Endovascular Today. “It would seem that many interventionalists may be at an increased risk of developing occupation-related cataracts during their careers.”

Also of note were the splash incidents found in four of the five pairs of glasses over the course of the study. Given relative frequency of splash incidents, Dr. Goh noted that one can draw the conclusion that some sort of eye protection is almost mandatory to reduce potential occupational injuries.

“Although a small study, based on our results it would seem that interventional radiologists, and possibly interventional cardiologists and vascular surgeons, should consider wearing lead glasses to reduce the risk of developing occupation-related cataracts over their lifetime,” concluded Dr. Goh.

As has been the case in previous years, occupational radiation risks and safety measures were a key theme of the annual CIRSE meeting, with a dedicated radiation safety pavilion and focused lectures throughout the week.

 

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