Radiation Protection in Cardiology

How important should radiation protection be in cardiology? To the interventional cardiologist? To their staff? To their patient? While physician and staff safety is important, obviously the safety of the patient is important as well. But what protection is available?

Interventional cardiologists use medical imaging such as X-ray fluoroscopy to perform minimally invasive procedures. Fluoroscopy provides real-time images to the cardiologist by using a continuous X-ray beam. The use of fluoroscopy has become an essential tool in interventional procedures, but with its increased use has come an increased risk of radiation exposure to everyone during a procedure.

Fluoroscopy works using ionizing radiation and it is well established that interventional procedures expose patients and staff to high levels of radiation. The risks of that radiation exposure are well documented.

Medical staff is clearly at risk due to the number of cases (procedures) they perform each year. The risks to staff should not be taken lightly, but there are precautions and best practices that can help to protect medical professionals.

Hospitals follow the principles of ALARA – as low as reasonably achievable. ALARA assumes that no dose of radiation is safe and that every precaution possible should be taken to prevent radiation exposure to patients as well as to the medical staff that treats them.

Efforts such as ALARA are important steps in providing improved radiation safety to cardiologists, but are they enough? Should the goal of radiation protection really be what’s “reasonably” achievable?

In an article posted to the Journal of Thoracic Disease (JTD) in 2020, Sylvia R. Biso, MD, and Mladen I. Vidovich, MD wrote in detail about radiation protection. The Doctors discussed shielding, personal protective equipment (PPEs), and other techniques to reduce radiation exposure. They also discussed the use of equipment and other techniques to reduce radiation exposure to the patient and staff.

There are three fundamentals generally proposed as key to radiation safety – time, distance, and shielding. In a previous article, Omega introduced a fourth fundamental of radiation safety – technology. Technology can dramatically reduce radiation exposure to not only the physician and staff, but to the patient as well.

In a comparative study, Omega proved a significant dose reduction is achieved when using an AI image-guided ROI system compared to a non-AI system. Radiation is reduced in all modes of acquisition (fluoro and cine) at varying frame rates.

The objective of this study was to access the efficacy of an AI image-guided ROI system versus a conventional, non-AI system in reducing radiation dose. The conclusions were clear – the Omega system significantly reduced radiation when compared to a competitor’s system. Radiation reduction in cine mode was up to ~75% for staff and ~71% for patients. In fluoro mode, radiation reduction was ~61% for staff and ~51% for patients.

The interventional X-ray systems designed and built by Omega provide an automatic, hands-free solution to radiation protection – delivering the benefit of consistent and repeatable radiation reduction to patients and to staff beyond anything else in use today.

Omega’s ROI and AI technologies take increased safety to another level and reduce radiation exposure to everyone in the lab – not just the physician, but to the staff and patient as well. And they do so within the cost of an X-ray system – not for an additional cost in funds or footprint – and without impeding existing workflow.

Omega recently introduced an innovative new interventional cardiology system, the Soteria.AI. The system uses AI image-guided technology that automatically defines, tracks, and collimates to the Region of Interest (ROI) of the cardiologist. Advanced image processing delivers superior image quality while reducing radiation exposure by up to ~84%. This reduction is in addition to existing best practices – over and beyond ALARA.

Omega systems allow physicians and hospitals to provide the best care and radiation protection to their patients as well as to their staff – improving the radiation safety of everyone.

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