Radiation protection in the cardiac catheterization laboratory
The trend towards more minimally invasive procedures in the past few decades has resulted in an exponential growth in fluoroscopy-guided catheter-based cardiology procedures. As these techniques are becoming more commonly used and developed, the adverse effects of radiation exposure to the patient, operator, and ancillary staff have been a subject of concern. Although occupational radiation dose limits are being monitored and seldom reached, exposure to chronic, low dose radiation has been shown to have harmful biological effects that are not readily apparent until years after. Given this, it is imperative that reducing radiation dose exposure in the cardiac catheterization laboratory remains a priority. Staff education and training, radiation dose monitoring, ensuring use of proper personal protective equipment, employment of shields, and various procedural techniques in minimizing radiation must always be diligently employed. Special care and consideration should be extended to pregnant women working in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. This review article presents a practical approach to radiation dose management and discusses best practice recommendations in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.