To describe the radiation safety behaviors of veterinary specialists performing small animal fluoroscopic procedures and examine potential risk factors for these behaviors, including knowledge of radiation risk and training regarding machine operating parameters.
197 veterinary specialists and residents in training.
An electronic questionnaire was distributed to members of the American Colleges of Veterinary Internal Medicine (subspecialties of cardiology and small animal internal medicine), Veterinary Radiology, and Veterinary Surgery.
The overall survey response rate was 6% (240/4,274 email recipients). Of the 240 respondents, 197 (82%) had operated an x-ray unit for a small animal fluoroscopic procedure in the preceding year and fully completed the questionnaire. More than 95% of respondents believed that radiation causes cancer, yet approximately 60% of respondents never wore hand or eye protection during fluoroscopic procedures, and 28% never adjusted the fluoroscopy machine operating parameters for the purpose of reducing their radiation dose. The most common reasons for not wearing eye shielding included no requirement to wear eyeglasses, poor fit, discomfort, and interference of eyeglasses with task performance. Respondents who had received training regarding machine operating parameters adjusted those parameters to reduce their radiation dose during procedures significantly more frequently than did respondents who had not received training.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
On the basis of the self-reported suboptimal radiation safety practices among veterinary fluoroscopy users, we recommend formal incorporation of radiation safety education into residency training programs. All fluoros-copy machine operators should be trained regarding the machine operating parameters that can be adjusted to reduce occupational radiation exposure.