Over the past 15 years, we have seen tremendous progress in the techniques and treatments available to patients in the cardiac cath lab. Thanks to innovations and technological development, patients that used to require open-heart surgery, or worse, not survived their condition, can now be treated utilizing the minimally invasive techniques available in the cath lab. However, the advancement of these procedures has come at expense of the health and safety of physicians and staff in the cath lab who endure exposure to radiation during each procedure and, as a result, spend long hours wearing heavy lead protective gear.
Radiation safety in the cath lab is an ongoing topic of discussion in interventional cardiology. Recently, Cath Lab Digest editor Dr. Morton Kern published an article examining gaps in current radiation safety practices and initiatives that some of country’s leading hospitals have undertaken to improve radiation safety protocols for the entire cath lab team. Although there are common themes that span all cath labs including use of personal protective equipment such as lead aprons and regular monitoring of dosimeters, practices vary widely and not everyone receives the same radiation safety training across the board.