Does Surgical Experience Decrease Radiation Exposure in the Operating Room?

Lacey C. Magee, Alexa J. Karkenny, Jie C. Nguyen, Faris Z. Fazal, DIvya Talwar, Xiaowei Zhu, Apurva S. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Intraoperative fluoroscopy facilitates minimally invasive surgery, and although it is irreplaceable in terms of intraoperative guidance, it results in substantial radiation exposure to the patient and surgical team. Although the risk of radiation exposure because of equipment factors has been described, there is little known about the impact of surgeon experience on radiation exposure. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between years of surgical experience and total dose of radiation used for an archetypal pediatric orthopaedic surgical procedure that requires intraoperative fluoroscopy. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of children undergoing closed reduction and percutaneous pinning for supracondylar humerus fractures at a level I pediatric trauma center. Information pertaining to radiation dosage was gathered including fluoroscopic time, total images acquired, magnification use, and dose area product (DAP). Regression analysis was used to evaluate the effect of surgeon experience on the outcome variables. Results: A total of 759 pediatric patients treated by 17 attending surgeons were included. The median surgeon experience was 8.94 years (interquartile range, 5.9 to 19.8). Increased number of pins was associated with increased DAP (P<0.001) and lower years of experience (P=0.025). There was significantly higher fluoroscopy time in seconds (56.9 vs. 42.1 s, P=0.001), DAP (179.9 vs. 110.3 mGy-cm2, P=0.001), use of magnification (39.5 vs. 31.9 s, P=0.043), and total number of images obtained (74.5 vs. 57.6, P=0.008) in attending surgeons with <1 year of experience compared with those with greater experience. An operator extremity was visible in at least 1 saved image in 263 of 759 (35%) cases. Conclusion: Increased surgical experience was significantly associated with decreased fluoroscopy usage, including time, number of images, and dose. Surgeon inexperience increases radiation exposure for patients and staff by over 60% when treating supracondylar humerus fractures. This study clearly identifies methods to reduce radiation exposure, including use of pulsed fluoroscopy instead of continuous fluoroscopy, decreasing use of magnification, removing the operator's extremity from the field, and judicious use and placement of each additional pin. Level of Evidence: Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • attending
  • exposure
  • radiation
  • resident
  • safety
  • supracondylar humerus fracture
  • surgical experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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