(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Minimal changes in radiation safety and x-ray systems reduce patients’ exposure to excessive radiation, according to a team of researchers of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. This conclusion is based on a study entitled “Radiation Dose Reduction in the Invasive Cardiovascular Laboratory: Implementing a Culture and Philosophy of Radiation Safety,” which was published in the August issue of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions

Exposure to x-ray radiation can cause skin injuries (radiation burns) as well as introduce breaks into DNA, an event which increases one’s risk for developing cancer. In this study, the investigators aimed to modify radiation safety procedures and x-ray systems in cardiology units in order to minimize patients’ radiation exposure. To meet their aim, the investigators implemented several clinical practice and technical changes to elevate radiation awareness and reduce patient radiation dose. These changes included “intraprocedure radiation dose announcements; reporting of procedures for which the air-kerma exceeded 6,000 mGy;  …establishing standard x-ray imaging protocols, reducing the detector target dose for fluoroscopy and acquisition imaging,” and more.

Using retrospective data, the investigators calculated the patients’ cumulative skin exposure to radiation over a period of 3 years. These data were based on skin exposure to radiation during the following procedures: percutaneous coronary interventions, coronary angiography, noncardiac vascular angiography, and interventions to treat structural heart disease.

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“A total of 18,115 procedures were performed by 27 staff cardiologists and 65 fellows-in-training. Considering all procedures, the mean cumulative skin dose decreased from 969 to 568 mGy (40% reduction) over 3 years,” the investigators reported.

Based on these findings, the investigators concluded, “A philosophy of radiation safety, implemented through a collection of sustained practice and x-ray system changes, can result in a significant decrease in the radiation dose administered to patients…” Implementing such changes might reduce cancer risk in this patient population.