Which one is at risk in intraoperative fluoroscopy? Assistant surgeon or orthopaedic surgeon?

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Background:Orthopaedic surgeons use intraoperative portable fluoroscopy and roentgenography. The present study was an attempt to find out if there is a difference between the occupational radiation exposure to the orthopaedic surgeon and assistant surgeon in the operating room while using intraoperative fluoroscopy or radiographic control and to measure it.Methods:During a 3-month period, 107 consecutive operations were monitored for radiation exposure. At monthly intervals, the radiation doses were measured in millirem and recorded. The distance of the orthopaedic surgeon and the assistant surgeon from the X-ray source were noted in every fluoroscopic check. The orthopaedic surgeon was always at a safe distance (more than 90 cm), but the assistant surgeon always stood nearby (10 cm) the X-ray source for positioning of the patient.Results:The radiation exposure according to the badge on the shoulder was consecutively 3, 4, 3 mrem for the orthopaedic surgeon and 20, 19, 22 mrem for the assistant surgeon. The radiation exposure according to the badges on the anaesthetic machine, in the room and under the apron of the orthopaedic surgeon were all zero, whereas the readings of the badge under the apron of the assistant surgeon were 7, 6, 5 mrem consecutively.Conclusion:Our findings show that although the radiation exposure during orthopaedic operations is below the recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Protection, there is a higher risk of exposure for the assistant surgeon. It has to be kept in mind that there could be morphological and functional damage in cells exposed to radiation. Therefore, we should continue to use appropriate shielding precautions in view of the unknown long-term risks.

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