Effects of a Brief Educational Program on Optimization of Fluoroscopy to Minimize Radiation Exposure During Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

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Abstract

Background & Aims

Fluoroscopy during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is increasingly performed by therapeutic endoscopists, many of whom have not received formal training in modulating fluoroscopy use to minimize radiation exposure. Exposure to ionizing radiation has significant health consequences for patients and endoscopists. We aimed to evaluate whether a 20-minute educational intervention for endoscopists would improve use of fluoroscopy and decrease ERCP-associated exposure to radiation for patients.

Methods

We collected data from 583 ERCPs, performed in California from June 2010 through November 2012; 331 were performed at baseline and 252 following endoscopist education. The educational intervention comprised a 20-minute video explaining best practices for fluoroscopy, coupled with implementation of a formal fluoroscopy time-out protocol before the ERCP was performed. Our primary outcome was the effect of the educational intervention on direct and surrogate markers of patient radiation exposure associated with ERCPs performed by high-volume endoscopists (HVEs) (200 or more ERCPs/year) vs low-volume endoscopists (LVEs) (fewer than 200 ERCPs/year).

Results

At baseline, total radiation dose and dose area product were significantly higher for LVEs, but there was no significant difference between HVEs and LVEs following education. Education was associated with significant reductions in median fluoroscopy time (48% reduction for HVEs vs 30% reduction for LVEs), total radiation dose (28% reduction for HVEs vs 52% for LVEs) and dose area product (35% reduction for HVEs vs 48% reduction for LVEs). All endoscopists significantly increased their use of low magnification and collimation following education.

Conclusions

A 20-minute educational program with emphasis on ideal use of modifiable fluoroscopy machine settings results in an immediate and significant reduction in ERCP-associated patient radiation exposure for low-volume and high-volume endoscopists. Training programs should consider radiation education for advanced endoscopy fellows.

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