Decreasing exposure to thyroid radiation in an orthopaedic theatre setting: an educational intervention


PPE, thyroid, orthopaedics, radiation, guard

Published online: Jan 08 2024


1 School of Medicine, University College Cork, Ireland
2 Orthopaedics Department, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland
3 Orthopaedics Department, South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Cork, Ireland
4 Radiology Department, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland


The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) can significantly reduce staff exposure to harmful radiation and infection.

Fluoroscopic procedures in orthopaedic theatre can generate high levels of radiation and good adherence to PPE use is essential to reduce long term cancer risk, including thyroid cancer.

To assess baseline compliance with PPE, availability of PPE in theatre and carry out an intervention to promote greater use of PPE.

This was a closed-loop interventional study set in a level 1 trauma centre and an elective/rehabilitation unit. Data were collected in 40 cases pre and post-intervention from 26th May-7th July 2017. All health care practitioners present at fluoroscopic screening were observed. PPE availability was audited daily. A questionnaire was used to assess surgical and nursing knowledge/practices regarding radiation/infection safety. An educational presentation was delivered to the groups at highest risk of exposure.

39/41 questionnaires were completed (29 surgeons, 10 nurses). 41% of respondents had taken a radiation training course or felt they had adequate training. There was a significant increase in the use of thyroid guards by surgeons 13/115 (11.3%) pre-intervention to 54/117 (46.2%) post-intervention (p<0.001) and radiographers (p=0.019) post-intervention.
Logistic regression showed an 89.7% increased likelihood of thyroid guard use post-intervention and a 12.7% increased chance of thyroid guard use for each extra guard available.

A short educational, easily replicated session, significantly improved compliance with thyroid guards by orthopaedic surgeons.