Occupational radiation doses to operators performing cardiac catheterization procedures

Kwang Pyo Kim, Donald L. Miller, Stephen Balter, Ruth A. Kleinerman, Martha S. Linet, Deukwoo Kwon, Steven L. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


Cardiac catheterization procedures using fluoroscopy reduce patient morbidity and mortality compared to operative procedures. These diagnostic and therapeutic procedures require radiation exposure to patients and physicians. The objectives of the present investigation were to provide a systematic comprehensive summary of the reported radiation doses received by operators due to diagnostic or interventional fluoroscopically-guided procedures, to identify the primary factors influencing operator radiation dose, and to evaluate whether there have been temporal changes in the radiation doses received by operators performing these procedures. Using PubMed, we identified all English-language journal articles and other published data reporting radiation exposures to operators from diagnostic or interventional fluoroscopically-guided cardiovascular procedures from the early 1970's through the present. We abstracted the reported radiation doses, dose measurement methods, fluoroscopy system used, operational features, radiation protection features, and other relevant data. We calculated effective doses to operators in each study to facilitate comparisons. The effective doses ranged from 0.02-38.0 μSv for DC (diagnostic catheterizations), 0.17-31.2 μSv for PCI (percutaneous coronary interventions), 0.24-9.6 μSv for ablations, and 0.29-17.4 μSv for pacemaker or intracardiac defibrillator implantations. The ratios of doses between various anatomic sites and the thyroid, measured over protective shields, were 0.9 ± 1.0 for the eye, 1.0 ± 1.5 for the trunk, and 1.3 ± 2.0 for the hand. Generally, radiation dose is higher on the left side of an operator's body, because the operator's left side is closer to the primary beam when standing at the patient's right side. Modest operator dose reductions over time were observed for DC and ablation, primarily due to reduction in patient doses due to decreased fluoroscopy/cineradiography time and dose rate by technology improvement. Doses were not reduced over time for PCI. The increased complexity of medical procedures appears to have offset dose reductions due to improvements in technology. The large variation in operator doses observed for the same type of procedure suggests that optimizing procedure protocols and implementing general use of the most effective types of protective devices and shields may reduce occupational radiation doses to operators. We had considerable difficulty in comparing reported dosimetry results because of significant differences in dosimetric methods used in each study and multiple factors influencing the actual doses received. Better standardization of dosimetric methods will facilitate future analyses aimed at determining how well medical radiation workers are being protected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-227
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Exposure
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Medical radiation
  • Occupational
  • Occupational safety


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