Saturday, August 30, 2008

Heart Surgery: Doctors At Risk!

If you thought that only the patient was at risk during surgery think again because doctors, performing heart surgery also face health risks, especially to their eyes.

The reason is that the medical industry's pillars, doctors and other medics, can get a high dose of radiation from X-ray imaging systems during surgical procedures, informs the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The Agency is also helping to raise awareness of threats, through training in radiation protection related to medical uses of X-ray imaging systems.

It indicates that the issue of radiation protection for medical personnel is particularly acute in the case of lengthy angioplasty and other cardiac interventions performed under X-ray fluoroscopic guidance. This is so because, while the cardiologists are busy maneuvering their surgical instruments, they can get an extensive radiation exposure that could lead to cataracts, in addition to several other longer term health risks (Doctors would know better!). During such surgeries it's Fluoroscopy that provides X-ray images of a patient that physicians can view on a display screen or monitor in real time to help themselves.

To address the issue the agency has planned a major international initiative aimed at training cardiologists and other medical professionals in radiation protection. It entails a study to test the eyes of interventional cardiologists participating in a regional medical conference, organized by the Latin American Society of Interventional Cardiologists (SOLACI) in Bogota, Colombia.

During the meet, the Latin American cardiologists, will offer participants to run test on them to detect early changes of radiation effect that may lead to cataract in future. Doing this will help them to retrospectively assess what radiation dose these cardiologists received, and then correlate the data with changes in their lens. And this should also help them protect themselves better in the future.

While the study is still to be conducted, the apex body had begun training courses for cardiologists way back in 2004 itself, as a consequence of which cardiologists from more than 50 countries have been trained in radiation protection. Furthermore, training material, on computer diskette and in printed publications, is being distributed via the website pages on the radiation protection of patients.

At a time when new ways to train surgeons and medics are evolving see: Video Game Surgery – A New Way To Train Surgeons & Sick (Man)nequin – A New Way To Train Medics, it's also crucial that technologies are developed to ensure safety of the medics.

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