Reusable radiation-absorbing pad slashes exposure by 81% in some interventional radiology situations

Adding a reusable radiation-absorbing pad to interventional radiologists’ standard protection equipment can significantly reduce dose exposure for these subspecialists, new research published Sunday suggests.

When experts out of Germany tested the tool in simulated clinical angiography scenarios, the pad reduced up to 80% of radiation exposure, particularly in upper body parts such as the lungs and brain. The findings, published in the European Journal of Radiology, are particularly relevant given the increasing number and complexity of minimally invasive fluoroscopy-guided interventions being performed by IR professionals.

Along with conventional equipment such as aprons, collars, shields and caps, reusable pads should be commonplace for these medical staffers, A.M. Koenig, with University Hospital Marburg’s Clinic of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, and colleagues wrote.

“This radiation-absorbing pad can be covered with a sterile foil and thus be moved and handled during an interventional procedure,” the authors added. “Furthermore, the radiation-absorbing pads have two femoral openings which can be opened to completely remove the radiation protection pad from the puncture site.”

For their investigation, Koenig et al. measured potential radiation exposure when using reusable pads made from .25 mm and 0.5 mm lead equivalents and without any pad at all. The tool was placed on a phantom body and tested at five different heights. Each situation also used a mobile acrylic shield and an under-table lead curtain.

In situations where the operator stood between 100 cm to 165 cm, an absorption pad greatly reduced the radiation dose. It worked particularly well at 165cm, with the 0.5mm lead tool limiting exposure by 51%, compared to the 0.25mm variety. At 100cm—the height of gonads, lungs, thyroid glands, eyes and the brain—the pad limited user dose by 16%.

“In short, the addition of a radiation-absorbing pad to the standard protection means showed a significant dose reduction for the operator in the simulated set-up, particularly for the upper body parts,” the authors wrote. “This would suggest adding radiation-absorbing pads also to the routine radiation protection devices of the personnel in fluoroscopic guided procedures for optimal radiation protection.”

Koenig and colleagues also warned against using such pads in the primary x-ray beam and noted that more research is needed to determine the best combination of radiation protection devices for clinicians.

Read the entire study here.