As the prevalence of obesity in the general population of the U.S. increases, we consistently observe a rise in obesity prevalence among patients undergoing cardiac catheterization. Currently, more than one-third of the patients undergoing fluoroscopic procedures are obese. This increase directly impacts radiation usage, as obese patients require greater radiation doses to overcome tissue attenuation and generate sufficient photons to create adequate images. 

Obesity    Scatter

The primary source of radiation exposure received by physicians and staff comes from scatter radiation emitted from the patient, which is proportional to the patient’s radiation dose. As obese patients typically require higher radiation doses to obtain clear images, they also emit greater amounts of scatter radiation–up to seven times the scatter emission of nonobese patients. This suggests that the increasing prevalence of obesity may impact the occupational risks faced by staff working in the catheterization lab.

Understanding Patient BMI Impact on Cath Lab Team

While previous research has established the impact of patient BMI on radiation dose, its effect on the radiation dose received by staff remains less understood. Studies have observed a positive association between patient BMI and the radiation dose of staff in the catheterization lab. As patient BMI increases, there is a corresponding increase in the radiation dose received by physicians. This observation aligns with the understanding that higher patient radiation doses, which also increase with BMI, lead to greater amounts of scatter radiation.

Circ Cardiovasc Interv. 2019; Madder et al; Patient BMI and Physician Radiation Dose

Since long-term radiation exposure among interventional cardiologists is linked to various negative health effects, the observations made in these obesity studies are alarming. While health problems associated with obesity in patients are well-established in literature, there is a need for further research to determine whether patient obesity might have an adverse impact on the health of staff and physicians who perform in the catheterization lab. With the prevalence of obesity increasing in the patient population, there is a greater need for radiation safety in the catheterization lab.

Scatter Matters

Proper radiation protection is important in keeping catheterization lab staff safe from serious health risks. At Egg Medical, we strive to protect everyone in the lab with a >91% reduction in scatter radiation. Operators and staff can minimize their radiation exposure and reduce risks by using protection systems like EggNest™ and engaging in proper safety procedures, such as using proper imaging techniques, maintaining a safe distance from the radiation source when possible, and using appropriate PPE

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