Radiation Protection in the Lab – Words or Reality?

How important is radiation protection for you? For your staff? For your patient? Every facility and hospital talks about radiation safety. It’s clearly important. Every manufacturer says they have the best technology and that they provide “the highest standards of safety and the lowest radiation exposure.” But is this true, or are they just words in a brochure?

Interventionalists use medical imaging such as X-ray fluoroscopy to perform minimally invasive procedures. The real-time images provided to a physician by using fluoroscopy have become an essential tool in interventional procedures. But with its increased use has also come an increased risk of radiation exposure to everyone in the room during a procedure.

The risks of ionizing 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. But what about patients? We’ll get to that later.

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 physicians and staff, but are they enough? Should the goal of radiation protection really be what’s “reasonably” achievable?

There are three fundamentals generally proposed as key to radiation safety – time, distance, and shielding. Time refers to the amount of radiation (the time) used to achieve the needed imaging. Distance means increasing the distance of the staff from the X-ray source – the further away the better…for medical staff. Shielding aims to block scatter radiation bouncing off the patient.

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.

Technology is available that is not grossly cost-preventative nor creates unnecessary demands and restrictions on workflow.  But not all technology is the same. Nor is all available technology universally adopted. Not everyone will tell you that. In fact, they will even claim it’s true or let you think it’s true. Despite the claims of many manufacturers, the reality is technology is not always universally adopted – even when the benefits are proven to be spectacular.

ROI technology is proven to provide dramatic results in radiation reduction. Still, ROI technology has not been universally adopted by all manufacturers. Nor has AI image-guided technology that automatically collimates to the Region of Interest (ROI) – reducing radiation exposure by up to 84% without any interruption of existing workflow while delivering superior image quality.

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

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 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 involved.

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