Reduced Radiation Exposure

Radiation due to x-ray exposure is something surgeons and patients are subjected to every day in the operating room. SMARTdrill® technology dramatically eliminates the need for intra-operative x-rays.

SMARTdrill® technology enhances safety by dramatically reducing the need for confirmatory x-ray and fluoroscopy. With accurate depth measurement and bone data that guide optimal screw selection, we’ve eliminated the need for excessive and redundant imaging procedures in the surgical suite. This has a significant effect on minimizing radiation exposure for the patient, surgeon and OR staff. Radiation exposure has been considered part of the job for orthopaedic surgeons – an “accepted evil” or “the cost of doing business.” Case reports and epidemiological studies are now reporting that physicians that use fluoroscopy, such as orthopaedic surgeons, have an increased risk of brain tumors (odds ratio of up to 6.0) and skin cancers.1,2,3 Why have we accepted this? Exposure times can range from less than a minute to tens of minutes, depending on the case complexity. During fixation, surgeons rely on x-ray and fluoroscopy to determine drill bit position, depth and cortical penetration. Often, another x-ray is used to check wire gauge position and then again to confirm screw length. If the screw is too long or too short, this radiation-exposing process begins again. With SMARTdrill® and SMARTdriver, imaging should be only needed for fracture reduction and final construct assessment – not during the drilling and screw placement process. There is no denying that radiation exposure is a concern today. OSHA places restrictions on radiation use in medical procedures.4 Radiation exposure times are monitored and recorded by OR personnel, and records must be maintained by hospitals. Additionally, state and federal agencies mandate that hospitals provide and maintain radiation safety equipment, and hire and educate radiation safety personnel and technicians. Yet rarely do these agencies and staff pursue solutions to reduce the need for x-rays. By dramatically reducing the need for x-rays and fluoroscopy, SMARTdrill® technology can and will make a positive difference in your practice.

In this picture, two surgeons are working close to the imaging tube of the C-arm. Even when this close to the x-ray emitting equipment, it is not uncommon for surgeons to wear minimal protective equipment because of comfort, cost and availability. Here you see no lead glasses (expensive), no thyroid shields (uncomfortable, often unavailable) and no lead gloves (uncomfortable, difficult to perform tasks while wearing them).