OBJECTIVE To describe self-reported use of x-ray personal protective equipment (PPE) by veterinary workers in Saskatchewan, Canada, and to examine factors that affected their use of x-ray PPE.
DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.
SAMPLE 331 veterinary workers.
PROCEDURES A questionnaire was distributed to Saskatchewan veterinary workers electronically and by conventional mail. Recipients were encouraged to share the questionnaire with colleagues. The questionnaire consisted of questions regarding radiation safety practices used during small animal radiographic procedures, including frequency of use of dosimeters and lead aprons, thyroid shields, eyeglasses, and gloves. Respondents were also requested to provide suggestions for increasing use of PPE.
RESULTS 460 questionnaires were completed, of which 331 were returned by workers involved with performing radiographic procedures. Two hundred eighty-five of 331 (86%) respondents reported that at least 1 worker was always in the room during x-ray exposure, and 325 (98%), 291 (88%), and 9 (3%) respondents reported always wearing a lead apron, thyroid shield, and protective eyeglasses, respectively, during radiographic imaging. Two hundred seventeen of 327 (66%) respondents used lead gloves correctly less than half the time. Mean percentage of time that gloves were worn correctly was higher for workers who were required to do so by their employers than for those who were not.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested use of PPE during radiographic procedures can be increased by employers making PPE use mandatory. Other respondent-identified factors that would increase PPE use included the availability of properly fitting and functional PPE and education of workers about health risks associated with ionizing radiation exposure.
To describe self-reported radiation safety practices by equine veterinary technicians in North America and identify factors associated with these practices.
154 equine technicians.
An electronic questionnaire regarding radiation safety practices during the use of portable x-ray equipment was sent to 884 members of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants. Data were summarized, and various factors were evaluated for associations with reported safety practices.
221 of 884 (25.0%) questionnaires were completed, including 154 by equine technicians who had been involved in equine radiography as x-ray tube operators, cassette holders, or both in the previous year. Lead apron use was suboptimal, reported as “always” for 80.0% (104/130) of tube operators and 83.1% (123/148) of cassette holders. Approximately 20% of participants never wore thyroid shields, and approximately 90% never wore lead eyeglasses. Almost 50% of participants did not have lead eyeglasses available. Although > 55% of participants always held the x-ray equipment by hand, 58.4% (73/125) of tube operators and 25.0% (35/140) of cassette holders never wore gloves. Cassette holders wore lead gloves and personal radiation dose–monitoring devices significantly more frequently than did tube operators.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Compliance of North American equine technicians with radiation safety recommendations by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements was suboptimal. Improvements in radiation safety training and education, strengthening the connection between academic institutions and private practices, and greater availability and requirement of personal protective equipment use by senior clinicians and employers might aid in improving safety practices.
The objectives of this study were to investigate scattered radiation doses to the hands of equine workers holding the cassette and the x-ray tube by hand, for both limb and vertebral column studies, and to compare the scattered radiation attenuation of lead with radiation protection lead-free gloves. Radiation doses to the hands of the cassette holder in the primary beam were also investigated.
A whole-body horse cadaver.
A portable x-ray unit was used to simulate 6 radiographic study types in the horse cadaver. Doses were measured with no shielding and, for cassette holders, with the ion chamber enclosed in a lead glove and a lead-free glove. Thirty exposures were performed for each study view and condition (n = 1,920).
Mean scattered doses to x-ray unit operators were higher than doses to cassette holders for ungula (hoof), thoracic vertebrae, and lumbar vertebrae studies, whereas doses to cassette holders were higher than doses to x-ray tube operators for studies of the metacarpophalangeal joint (fetlock) and tarsus (hock). Doses did not differ for the stifle joint. Mean percentage decrease in scattered radiation dose was 99.58% with lead gloves and 98.9% with lead-free gloves.
X-ray tube operators can be exposed to equal or higher scattered radiation doses to the hand as cassette holders. Lead-free hand shielding should only be considered as an alternative to lead gloves if their lighter weight increases frequency of use by workers.
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.