Monitoring system reduces radiation exposure during interventional heart procedures

A real-time radiation monitoring system could help interventional cardiologists and others working in cardiac catheterization laboratories reduce their radiation exposure during procedures, according to research presented at a meeting of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.

According to Georgios Christopoulous, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, use of the device reduced radiation exposure during cardiac catheterization procedures by 29 to 36 percent compared to cases in which the device wasn't used.

Traditionally silent dosimeter devices are used to monitor radiation exposure in cath labs but don't provide the results in real time. "The device allows for immediate reaction that can limit exposure, unlike current monitoring that physicians undergo months after exposure," lead study investigator Emmanouil Brilakis, who serves as director of the cardiac catheterization laboratories at VA North Texas Health Care System, said in an announcement.

This monitor--called the Bleeper SV--beeps about every 15 minutes when it is in the presence of background radiation, and increases in frequency as the amount of the radiation dose increases. Christopoulous called it "a low-cost and effective tool to visualize radiation and protect ourselves and our patients from its consequences"--according to MedPage Today.

For the study, Christopoulous and his colleagues randomized 505 patients undergoing left cardiac catheterization procedures to have the beeper used or not used during their procedures. The researchers found that, compared to the control group, use of the device led to a significant decrease in the amount of radiation exposure (from 1.4 to 0.9 millirem) to the first operator, and a lesser but still significant decrease to the second operation (0.7 to 0.5 millirem).

"Our study results show that ... device use should be encouraged in the cardiac catheterization setting to reduce exposure as it has a definitive impact in reducing operator exposure and a potential benefit for reducing patient exposure, as well," Christopoulous said.

To learn more:
- see the study
- check out the announcement
- read the article in MedPage Today

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