How Much Radiation Does a Surgeon’s Brain Receive during Femoral Nailing?

OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Impact Science, in response to a recent article in JBJS.

Surgeon exposure to ionizing radiation during C-arm fluoroscopy is common during many orthopaedic procedures, including fracture reduction and fixation-implant positioning. With increased exposure, concern about potential health risks to staff also increases.

A new study in the November 18, 2020 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery estimates how much radiation a surgeon’s brain is exposed to while performing short cephalomedullary (SC) nailing over a 40-year career. Ramoutar et al. used two cadaveric specimens (one representing the patient and one head-and-neck specimen representing the surgeon) during a simulated fluoroscopic-guided femoral-nailing procedure.

The dose of radiation to the brain was measured with sensors implanted in the cadaver brain and placed superficially on the skull. Measurements were made with the surgeon specimen set up with different configurations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to test their effectiveness at shielding the brain from radiation.

Ramoutar et al. calculated that the overall extrapolated lifetime dose over 40 working years for surgeons performing 16 SC nailing cases per year without PPE was 2,146 µGy, which is comparable to the radiation exposure during a 1-way flight from London to New York. The authors also found that the use of a thyroid shield was very effective in reducing the radiation exposure to the brain, although the use of additional PPE (e.g., leaded glasses and lead cap) did not add any significant reduction in brain exposure to radiation.

In addition to concluding that the lifetime brain dose of radiation from SC nailing is low, the authors say the findings should encourage surgeons performing this procedure to use thyroid shields. This study also provides a repeatable methodology for future studies investigating brain-radiation doses during other common orthopaedic procedures.

Impact Science is a team of highly specialized subject-area experts (Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Medicine & Humanities), who collaborate with authors, societies, libraries, universities, and various other stakeholders for services to enhance research impact. Through research engagement and science communication, Impact Science aims at democratizing science by making research-backed content accessible to the world.


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