Educating radiology residents, radiographers lowers radiation dose

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Educating radiology residents and radiographers about radiation exposure for one hour can reduce the dose area product (DAP) in their fluoroscopy examinations, according to a new study published in Academic Radiology.

In April 2015, an experienced gastrointestinal (GI) radiologist provided radiology residents and radiographers with a one-hour course on radiation exposure from fluoroscopic examinations and how to reduce radiation dose during such exams. To track the effectiveness of that education, the authors evaluated more than 2,300 fluoroscopic exams of the GI tract in adult patients from June 2014 to February 2016. This included more than 750 exams before the training and more than 1,500 exams after the training.

Overall, the median DAP in these examinations decreased after the educational course from 21.1 to 18.2 Gy cm2. In addition, fluoroscopy time “tended to decrease after education,” especially in upper GI series with water-soluble contrast (WSC) and esophagography with WSC.

“Even a short education course could interest radiologists and radiographers in the radiation produced during fluoroscopy and make them willing to decrease radiation doses during fluoroscopic examinations,” wrote Seung Eun Jung, MD, of Seoul St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues.

The authors added that their study did have several limitations. Fluoroscopic examination data was collected retrospectively, for example, and DAP and fluoroscopy time information was not available for certain examinations. They added that the effects of individual specialists on DAP could not be tracked, but “the large number of examinations we evaluated should overcome the variability among radiologists.”

Jung et al. concluded that tracking radiation is important for all patients and all imaging examinations.

“The as-low-as-reasonably-achievable principle should be applied to adults as well as children, and the primary operators of fluoroscopy machines should make an effort to reduce the radiation dose received by patients of any age because a substantial effective dose is delivered during fluoroscopic examinations,” they wrote.