Satyaki Banerjee , President , Kiran Medical Systems , a Division of Trivitron Healthcare
The number of image guided procedures being performed across the world has increased manifold over the years; most procedures are performed under x-ray. This has led to a significant increase in the quantum of radiation exposure medical professionals are being exposed to. Statistics reveal a steady increase in radiation induced cancer incidences amongst medical professionals due to inadequate radiation protection measures.
Adequate radiation protection for medical professionals involved in image guided surgical procedures is vital to limit damage to healthy tissues due to extended exposure to ionizing radiation.
Optimizing protection against ionizing radiation requires a team commitment and understanding of the various radiation protection options available like aprons, shields, eye wear and gloves specifically designed using radiation attenuating elements for use by medical professionals who are exposed to ionizing radiation for extended durations.
While the use of lead aprons are fairly common, radiation protection aprons alone might not be enough since the eyes and the hands are being exposed constantly to scattered radiation; and many a times the hands are exposed to the direct x-ray beam. The use of radiation protection eyewear and gloves are therefore essential for adequate protection.
One of the biggest challenges is awareness on the need of adequate radiation protection measures for medical professionals. This can be resolved through concerted efforts between regulatory agencies, medical institutions and key opinion leaders in conjunction with industry to educate medical professionals across the country on the deterministic and stochastic effects of radiation exposure.
There is adequate requirement of radiation protection to prevent severe health problems for both patients and medical professionals as any exposure to ionizing radiation carries a risk of causing cancer and affects the tissues which lead to hair loss and cataracts.
Radiation protection gloves are effective in counterbalancing the risk of scatter beam radiation exposure to the hands during image guided procedures. The hands are the body parts that are most exposed to radiation during such procedures; unfortunately it is also the most neglected part when it comes to radiation protection. While most professionals would use an apron they would skip the use of gloves.
High quality radiation protection gloves are manufactured using either natural latex, or synthetic latex alternatives with bismuth as the radiation attenuation element. These gloves are specially designed to allow the maintenance of dexterity during surgical procedures. The finest radiation protection gloves offer excellent tactile sensitivity at the finger tips, an important consideration for widespread use of gloves.
Depending on the nature of the procedure, a compromise is made between the radiation attenuation achieved and the tactile sensitivity of the gloves that is desired. For orthopedic procedures, thicker gloves offering high radiation attenuation but slightly compromised tactile sensitivity are used, while for procedures that requires handling of fine guide wires; ultra-thin gloves with lower radiation attenuation but excellent tactile sensitivity are preferred.