Invisible Impact: The Risk of Ionizing Radiation on Cath Lab Staff

Invisible Impact: The Risk of Ionizing Radiation on Cath Lab Staff

This video tells the story of one of the world’s most prominent cardiovascular surgeons, Dr. Edward Diethrich, and the career-altering health issues he has faced as a result of chronic, low-level exposure to ionizing radiation through his work.

Catheter-based technology has enabled the minimally invasive treatment of conditions that previously required invasive surgery. However, as the number of interventional procedures performed each day continues to rise, an unforeseen trade-off relates to the health of the medical professionals who perform these procedures and are exposed to procedure-related ionizing radiation. Existing scientific evidence points to an alarming incidence of cancer, cataracts and other serious adverse health effects among these professionals, including interventional cardiologists, endovascular surgeons, interventional radiologists and neurointerventionalists, as well as fluoroscopy lab employees.

The Organization for Occupational Radiation Safety in Interventional Fluoroscopy (ORSIF) was formed to raise awareness of the health risks of occupational ionizing radiation exposures and associated musculoskeletal risks occurring in interventional fluoroscopy laboratories. ORSIF develops support for medical professionals and hospitals for new and better ways to create the safest possible work environment for those dedicated to the wellness of others. The organization is comprised of members from industry and also includes physicians and staff from interventional fluoroscopy labs, and will partner with other physician associations, academic institutions, labor groups, and government bodies.

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  1. Video Resource Library on March 4, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    I’ve watched this multiple times the last few years. So well done. A great example of disruptive medical technology coming full circle. So impactful to have a highly regarded surgeon be so vulnerable to benefit future generations.

  2. Carol lietzow on March 4, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Dr Dietrich that was a great story. Prior to working with you at AHI and AHH I went to college in Michigan and radiation was the utmost important in clinicals if we turned our back in flouro we asked to leave the room and not come back. It was drilled into the students. i cannot begin to tell you how many times Rn’s Drs etc would ignore me about protection. I am glad you made that documentary. You are a great man, surgeon and working with you was a wonderful experience that I will always cherish. In all the years I have known you you always showed respect, concern and care for your staff and patients. I am so glad you you continue to care and improve the field of radiology. God Bless. Carol Lietzow RT(R)(M) CT

  3. Ion Hunter on March 4, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    I have a few ideas that I’m working on.

  4. Robert Lee on March 4, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks for putting this problem in to proper perspective by being forthright with your own story, Dr. Deithtrich! Having seen several fellow contemporary vascular surgeons come down with thyroid CA, and seeing the general disregard in angiography suites for proper radiation safety, coupled with the fact that few hospitals where I have practiced been complaint about letting individuals know their acute and chronic levels of radiation exposure, I believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg at this point in time. Couple this with the fact that patients are being seduced by the allure of this minimally invasive technology, but never duly informed about the consequences of the extensive radiation exposure they may be subject to both acutely for the intervention, and for the chronic followup of their procedures and you have a significant public health issue. Thanks, Ted!

    Dr. Robert Lee, MD, FACS

  5. Thomas Martin on March 4, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    Okay, we have been made aware of the problem. My question is what does the staff working in the Cath Lab do to prevent radiation exposure?

  6. Prospero Gogo on March 4, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for this short. I’m an interventional cardiologist/lab director in Burlington, Vermont, and have also taken up the issue of radiation exposure for our lab. I distributed this short to all of our staff right after I watched it.

  7. Mojo Man on March 4, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Dr. Diethrich is a giant and a pioneer in medicine. This is unfortunately what happens when we place profits over people. For this to happen to Dr. Diethrich should awaken the entire medical and surgical community. I think it’s clear that we need a paradigm shift in the way we practice medicine so as to minimize the risks to professionals and patients.

  8. Donna Rosenlieb on March 4, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Very, very good.  As a radiographer of 30 yrs experience, I have often thought of this thru my career.   GI docs are another group of physicians that need to heed this warning.  One of my favorite Radiologist died from an osteosarcoma from his tibia – that formed below the level of the lead apron.  The leg that is closest to the table during fluro.  Radiation is an amazing tool, must be treated with respect and utmost caution to ourselves and to our patients.

  9. David Pound on March 4, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    I have been a Medical Device sales rep for over thirty years, spending most days in IR, Cath Lab, OR teaching doctors new techniques, Most MD companies do not require or provide radiation monitoring badges to their employees. There is a company called Zero Gravity (google it) that has a radiation suite that keeps the lead weight off the shoulders and protects the body and all sides of the head from radiation. I have seen it in a few labs. NOTE: The lab techs get much more radiation than the doctors!

  10. MD Mattis on March 4, 2021 at 10:41 pm

    The world is blessed to have pioneers like Dr. Diethrich, Dr. John Simpson, Dr. Denton Cooley and others too many to mention!  On behalf of the world….I thank you all

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