Monday, August 4, 2008
Medical Reports: Reducing Radiation
Every time you get an X-ray you're exposed to radiation. Eventually, all those rays add up and can be harmful, even deadly. Now a South Florida doctor has come up with a new device to better protect doctors and patients. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us how a vest is Reducing Radiation.
WSVN -- Whether it's a CT Scan or a simple dental X-ray to get a good picture of our bodies, it usually involves being exposed to radiation.
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "X-ray is harmful, and we have to remind ourselves that the more X-ray exposure you get, the more harmful it is. It all adds up over time."
Pain management specialist Ronald DeMeo uses a type of X-ray to help him see moving images of his patient's body during surgical procedures. The Coral Gables doctor has seen firsthand the affect radiation from those X-rays can have on the body.
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "I noticed, after repeated X-rays, I was developing what looked like a sunburn on my face and hands. It became obvious that it was radiation exposure-related damage to the skin."
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "One day a little light bulb went off, and I said to myself, I need to do something."
That something would lead the doctor to develop this fabric he calls Demron.
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "The material itself protects you against X-ray, gamma radiation, beta radiation, chemical and biological warfare agents."
After 911, he turned the fabric into a full body suit that could shield someone from radiation during something like a dirty bomb attack.
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "This is a radioactive isotope; it's live radiation. What you see similarly in a dirty bomb except hundreds of thousands of these sources. Right now we're producing 25,000 counts per minute. Place the Demron fabric over it, dropped to 61 or 140, again about a 99 percent reduction in radiation."
Now, the doctor turned inventor has created this vest to shield hospital workers from radiation during X-rays, and it can help patients too by protecting areas of the body not being X-rayed.
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "This offers protection for the first time to areas of the body that have never been protected before."
During a recent test, a radiation safety consultant sent two radiation badges, one inside the Demron vest another outside through a CAT Scanner.
Brandi Reardon, Radiation Safety Consultant: "The suit, once we got the badge readings back, it did reduce the exposure by 89.2 percent, which, I'm telling you, I was shocked."
Jessica Manning, a surgical tech at the Coral Gables Surgery Center is already wearing the protective vest.
Jessica Manning, Surgical Tech: "It's very comfortable to wear. It's lightweight, more flexible than the lead vest, and it gives me more coverage, so it gives me peace of mind."
A peace of mind Dr. Demeo hopes more patients will know soon.
Dr. Ronald DeMeo: "Physicians in general, we're researchers, we're teachers, we're thinkers. It's nice that finally something I've created actually has a use inside the operating room and outside the operating room."
Richard Lemus: "The hope is to get the vests in all hospitals for patients and surgical teams, and NASA is looking at the protective suits for the International Space Station."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Ronald DeMeo
Radiation Shield Technologies