Radiation Exposure Among Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons: Deconstructing Commonly Held Myths and Misperceptions : Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma

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Radiation Exposure Among Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons: Deconstructing Commonly Held Myths and Misperceptions

Raffetto, Michael L. MDa; Blum, Laura E. MDb; Abbenhaus, Eric J. MDa; Hautala, Gavin S. MDa; Lemieux, Bryan MSc; Pease, Tyler BSa; Wright, Raymond D. MDa; Moghadamian, Eric S. MDa; Aneja, Arun MD, PhDa; Blair, James A. MDd; Matuszewski, Paul E. MDa

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Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 36(8):p 375, August 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/BOT.0000000000002340



To review and evaluate the validity of common perceptions and practices regarding radiation safety in orthopaedic trauma.


Retrospective study.


Level 1 trauma center.




The intervention involved personal protective equipment.

Main Outcome Measurements: 

The main outcome measurements included radiation dose estimates.


Surgeon radiation exposure estimates performed at the level of the thyroid, chest, and pelvis demonstrate an estimated total annual exposure of 1521 mR, 2452 mR, and 1129 mR, respectively. In all cases, wearing lead provides a significant reduction (90% or better) in the amount of radiation exposure (in both radiation risk and levels of radiation reaching the body) received by the surgeon. Surgeons are inadequately protected from radiation exposure with noncircumferential lead. The commonly accepted notion that there is negligible exposure when standing greater than 6 feet from the radiation source is misleading, particularly when cumulative exposure is considered. Finally, we demonstrated that trauma surgeons specializing in pelvis and acetabular fracture care are at an increased risk of exposure to potentially dangerous levels of radiation, given the amount of radiation required for their caseload.


Common myths and misperceptions regarding radiation in orthopaedic trauma are unfounded. Proper use of circumferential personal protective equipment is critical in preventing excess radiation exposure.

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