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Objectives

To determine radiation exposure to personnel during fluoroscopic imaging of limbs of horses with a portable unit and to determine distance from the c-arm at which radioprotective clothing is not required.

Design

Repeated-measures cohort study.

Sample Population

Part 1, 1 forelimb and 1 hind limb from each of 5 equine cadavers; parts 2 and 3, personnel involved during imaging of limbs of 5 and 9 horses, respectively.

Procedure

Radiation exposure rates were mapped around the suspended c-arm of a portable fluoroscopy unit during imaging of various joints of equine cadaver limbs. During similar examinations in live horses, exposure rates to the fluoroscopist and assistant were measured. Mean duration for fluoroscopy of various joints was determined by observing an experienced fluoroscopist. Exposure to fluoroscopists and assistants per examination and per annum was estimated.

Results

Radiation exposure rates were dependent on distance and direction relative to the c-arm and consistently highest on the tube side of the unit. Exposure was significantly greater than background amounts until approximately 4.7 m from the c-arm. During examination of live horses, exposure was highest to the fluoroscopist's hand nearest the tube. Typically, exposure to the fluoroscopist and assistant during carpal examination was 25 to 40 times greater than that for comparable radiographic examination. Annual exposure for fluoroscopists was more than twice the recommended maximum permissible dose.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Fluoroscopic imaging of limbs of horses represents a major source of radiation exposure. Annual maximum permissible doses of radiation will be rapidly exceeded if required radioprotective clothing is not worn. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999;215:372–379)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association