Objectives: This three-part study examined the feasibility of reducing operator radiation exposure during coronary angioplasty.
Background: As case loads and complexity increase, some cardiologists are receiving increasing radiation scatter doses. Techniques to reduce this are therefore becoming more important.
Methods: First, the determinants of the operator dose were assessed by measuring the differences in scatter dose with different camera views. The relative contribution of fluoroscopy as opposed to cine was then quantified. Finally, operators were provided with these data, and subsequent changes in technique were evaluated.
Results: Left anterior oblique views resulted in 2.6 to 6.1 times the operator dose of equivalently angled right anterior oblique views. Increasing steepness of the left anterior oblique view also resulted in a progressive increase in operator dose, with left anterior oblique 90 degrees causing eight times the dose of left anterior oblique 30 degrees and three times that of left anterior oblique 60 degrees. In the 45 coronary angioplasty cases prospectively analyzed, fluoroscopy was found to be a greater source of total radiation than cine by a 6.3:1 ratio (range 1.1 to 15.8). Once operators were made aware of the importance of left anterior oblique fluoroscopy, there was a marked reduction in its use. When this was not feasible, there was a reduction in the steepness of the angulation. Left anterior oblique fluoroscopy during angioplasty of the left anterior descending and circumflex coronary arteries was reduced from 40% of total screening time to approximately 5%, and left anterior oblique angulation for fluoroscopy during angioplasty of the right coronary artery decreased from 43.6 degrees (+/- 9.1 degrees) to 29.4 degrees (+/- 2.2 degrees). Success rates (90% vs. 89%) and screening times (19.5 vs. 20.7 min) remained unchanged in 200 coronary angioplasties performed after the study. Average operator radiation dose (measured by radiation badges worn under lead at waist level) was reduced from 32.6 to 14.3 microSv/operator per week despite a slight increase in case load.
Conclusions: Fluoroscopy is the major source of total radiation exposure during coronary angioplasty, with left anterior oblique views providing the highest dose. Modification of views is feasible and will result in significant reduction of operator radiation dose.