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Feb. 18, 2015- Use of Devices to Reduce Radiation Exposure in Cath Lab a 'No Brainer'


Two additions in the Cath Lab at USA Medical Center are helping dramatically reduce the amount of operator radiation exposure. 

A lead drape, which fits over the pelvis of the patient, is designed to reduce radiation scattering and reduces exposure by 75 percent. A novel “No Brainer” surgical cap reduces radiation exposure to the head of the operator by more than 80 percent. 

While steps have always been taken to protect the patient and staff from radiation during a procedure, less attention has been paid to the physician performing it. According to a recent article on, physicians have been exposing themselves to doses of radiation for years, and concern has grown due to recent data that shows an increase in head and neck tumors in interventional cardiologists and radiologists. 

NoBrainer_Closeup_USAMedicalCenter_2015.jpg“I was concerned about the report and wanted to take measures to reduce radiation exposure in our lab, “ said Dr. Mustafa Awan, director of the lab. “I felt this was the way to go. In the past the caps were very heavy, but these are very light.” 

The No Brainer cap is like a paper surgical disposable cap with an insert that is made of heavy metals like bismuth and barium. Yet it is still lightweight, weighing about 50 grams. 

The pelvic drape, so situated because the groin is the access site for the catheter, is designed to reduce radiation exposure as the physician moves throughout the case. 

Both devices have been in use at the lab for the past several months. 

A cardiologist is exposed to radiation through the use of fluoroscopy, which is special kind of X-ray movie that takes images of the heart’s arteries and chambers in motion while performing a procedure. Depending on whether the procedure is diagnostic or interventional, anywhere from six to thirty images might be taken, exposing the cardiologist to radiation each time.

About the University of South Alabama Medical Center 

The University of South Alabama Medical Center offers patient-centered care to the central Gulf Coast with unique services including Mobile’s only Level I Trauma Center and Regional Burn Center, plus Centers of Excellence in stroke care and cardiovascular diseases, and a wide range of acute care services. 

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