A monitor that measures and alerts exposure to radiation in real-time was created by researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and may help healthcare professionals during the administration of cardiac-catheterization procedures. The Bleeper Sv is a wearable device that beeps to alert users of dangerous radiation levels, allowing them to take immediate action and keep away from the source.
During procedures such as cardiac-catheterization, medical workers may be exposed to radiation without noticing it, a situation that can now be avoided by using the Bleeper Sv, which normally beeps once every 15 minutes in presence of low background radiation, but starts beeping every 20 seconds when radiation levels are higher, and continuously when levels are very high.
“Radiation is invisible,” explained the senior author of the paper about the study called RadiCure, who is also an associate professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, Emmanouil Brilakis. “Use of a radiation detection device can provide real-time ‘visualization’ of radiation exposure, enabling operators to take actions to reduce radiation exposure.”
The results revealed that the medical workers who were using the Bleeper Sv device and were offered real-time auditory feedback reduced their exposure to radiation by about one-third. The scientists also noted that when advised by the Bleeper Sv about radiation levels, medical workers can take action to reduce it, which may include reducing the frame rate (meaning the number of X-ray images taken per second to create a “movie” of the coronary arteries), decreasing fluoroscopy time, repositioning the patient, repositioning themselves, adjusting the position of the radiation shield, or wearing additional shielding.
“Using devices that provide real-time radiation-exposure feedback can help the operator adopt safer radiation practices,” added Brilakis, who also serves as Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at the VA North Texas Health Care System. “In our study, this was achieved in a real-life setting among unselected patients using a low-cost device that can be used with any X-ray system.”
Since both clinicians and other medical workers who provide cardiac-catherizations conduct hundreds of procedures that involve radiation yearly, the researchers believe that their study may provide several benefits. The maximum dosage regarding occupational exposure to radiation is 20 mSv a year for a period of five years, however, the researchers explained that there is no “safe dose,” and any dosage of radiation may contribute to the development of diseases like cancer.
“It has been shown that people who are chronically exposed to radiation in cardiac catheterization labs are more likely to develop left-sided brain tumors,” said Brilakis. “The reduction in operator exposure observed in our study is likely to translate into a decreased risk for long-term adverse clinical events.”
The RadiCure study, which findings of which have been published at the Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions journal, was sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Dallas VA Research Corp. In addition to Brilakis, postdoctoral researcher Anna Kotsia, research scientist Bavana V. Rangan, Michele Roesle, RN, senior research associate Atif Mohammad, and associate professor of Internal Medicine Subhash Banerjee also participated in the research.