The effect of surgical experience on the amount of radiation exposure from fluoroscopy during dynamic hip screw fixation

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Dynamic hip screw (DHS) fixation for proximal femur fractures is one of the most common procedures in trauma that requires the use of fluoroscopy. Emphasis is often placed on producing the ‘perfect picture’, which may lead to excessive use of fluoroscopy, without added patient benefit. This study, the largest of its kind, aimed to determine the effect of surgical experience on the amount of radiation exposure from fluoroscopy during DHS fixation.

METHODS

All hospital admissions for extracapsular proximal femur fractures to our institution between 2007 and 2012 were analysed. Patient demographics, fracture configuration, grade of surgeon and the total radiation dose after fixation were recorded. Analysis of variance was performed to assess differences in radiation levels between different grades of surgeon.

RESULTS

A total of 1,203 patients with a mean age of 81.3 years (range: 21-105 years) were included in the study. The majority of the fractures were three-part (33.3%), followed by two-part (32.2%), four-part (25.7%) and basicervical (8.9%). Registrars (ST3-ST8) used a significantly higher radiation dose than consultants for all fracture types (p=0.009). When analysed separately by trainee group, the most junior registrars (ST3-ST4) and the most senior registrars (ST7-ST8) were found to use significantly higher radiation levels than consultants (p=0.037 and p<0.001 respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

The level of surgical experience does influence the amount of radiation exposure from fluoroscopy during DHS fixation. Surgical trainees should not ignore the potential harmful effects of radiation and should be equipped with the knowledge of how to keep the radiation exposure as low as possible.

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