Exposure of the thyroid to radiation during routine orthopaedic procedures

Acta Orthop Belg. 2006 Oct;72(5):615-20.


The availability and usage of portable image intensifiers has revolutionised routine orthopaedic practice. Extensive use of fluoroscopy however may result into significant radiation exposure to operating staff. An accumulated dose of 65 microSv per procedure over long exposure has been reported to increase the risk of thyroid cancer. The present prospective study aimed at measuring the scattered dose to the thyroid using an Unfors EDD dosimeter during DHS/IMHS for fractures of the neck of the femur and IM nailing for long bone fractures. In 32 procedures, the dose of 65 microSv was exceeded 13 times; 8 times during DHS/IMHS and 5 times during IMN. The average thyroid dose was 142 microSv during IMN and 55 microSv during DHS. Only 9 of the total 223 (4%) theatre personnel were using a thyroid shield in spite of its availability. These results suggest that the thyroid is frequently exposed to potentially harmful radiation during these procedures. Strict inclusion of a thyroid shield as a part of routine radiation protection is recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Orthopedics*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Thyroid Gland / radiation effects*