Radiation brain dose to vascular surgeons during fluoroscopically guided interventions is not effectively reduced by wearing lead equivalent surgical caps

Melissa L. Kirkwood, Gary M. Arbique, Jeffrey B. Guild, Katie Zeng, Yin Xi, John Rectenwald, Jon A. Anderson, Carlos Timaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Radiation to the interventionalist's brain during fluoroscopically guided interventions (FGIs) may increase the incidence of cerebral neoplasms. Lead equivalent surgical caps claim to reduce radiation brain doses by 50% to 95%. We sought to determine the efficacy of the RADPAD (Worldwide Innovations & Technologies, Lenexa, Kan) No Brainer surgical cap (0.06 mm lead equivalent at 90 kVp) in reducing radiation dose to the surgeon's and trainee's head during FGIs and to a phantom to determine relative brain dose reductions. Methods: Optically stimulated, luminescent nanoDot detectors (Landauer, Glenwood, Ill) inside and outside of the cap at the left temporal position were used to measure cap attenuation during FGIs. To check relative brain doses, nanoDot detectors were placed in 15 positions within an anthropomorphic head phantom (ATOM model 701; CIRS, Norfolk, Va). The phantom was positioned to represent a primary operator performing femoral access. Fluorography was performed on a plastic scatter phantom at 80 kVp for an exposure of 5 Gy reference air kerma with or without the hat. For each brain location, the percentage dose reduction with the hat was calculated. Means and standard errors were calculated using a pooled linear mixed model with repeated measurements. Anatomically similar locations were combined into five groups: upper brain, upper skull, midbrain, eyes, and left temporal position. Results: This was a prospective, single-center study that included 29 endovascular aortic aneurysm procedures. The average procedure reference air kerma was 2.6 Gy. The hat attenuation at the temporal position for the attending physician and fellow was 60% ± 20% and 33% ± 36%, respectively. The equivalent phantom measurements demonstrated an attenuation of 71% ± 2.0% (P <.0001). In the interior phantom locations, attenuation was statistically significant for the skull (6% ± 1.4%) and upper brain (7.2% ± 1.0%; P <.0001) but not for the middle brain (1.4% ± 1.0%; P =.15) or the eyes (−1.5% ± 1.4%; P =.28). Conclusions: The No Brainer surgical cap attenuates direct X rays at the superficial temporal location; however, the majority of radiation to an interventionalist's brain originates from scatter radiation from angles not shadowed by the cap as demonstrated by the trivial percentage brain dose reductions measured in the phantom. Radiation protective caps have minimal clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-571
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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