Home Radiation Japanese auto parts maker creates guard to protect doctors from radiation

Japanese auto parts maker creates guard to protect doctors from radiation

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NAGOYA (Kyodo) — An auto parts maker has developed a shield that dramatically reduces doctors’ exposure to radiation during cardiac catheterization surgeries, using its molding technology.

MS Group Co. in Kiyosu, Aichi Prefecture, produces weather stripping for automotive door glass and edge seals.

But Kunihiro Sakoda, 43, the company’s president who also works as a cardiologist, has sought to contribute to medical care with his company’s manufacturing technology.

MS started a joint development project with doctors who asked Sakoda in late 2020 how to protect pregnant female doctors from radiation exposure during cardiac catheterization surgeries. Many echocardiography specialists are women.

During cardiac catheterization, widely practiced in recent years for the treatment of heart vascular diseases, a thin tube is inserted into an artery often near the groin and directed towards the heart. The burden on the patient is considerably reduced because the surgery does not involve opening the chest.

However, the patient must be irradiated during surgery to accurately assess the position of the inserted instrument. Protection of the physicians involved, such as anesthesiologists and echocardiographers, from radiation exposure has been inadequate so far.

In many cases, conventional protective suits are avoided in surgery rooms because they are bulky and difficult to use.

“I don’t feel protected. I don’t want to be exposed to radiation, even though I can’t say it openly while I’m trying to get pregnant,” said an echocardiograph doctor in her 30s.

The newly developed protective guard, which is about 180 centimeters high and 90 centimeters wide, reduces doctors’ radiation exposure to a tenth of the current level while maintaining work efficiency, according to MS.

Shielded from radiation by the lead used in the plate, doctors can easily extend their hands through the openings to perform surgery with minimal radiation exposure. The height of the openings is adjustable to the dimensions of the doctor’s body.

The upper part of the board also uses lead, but there is no obstruction of sight during surgical procedures because the plate is transparent. The custody is the result of Sakoda’s sincere desire to “protect the doctors”, he said.

MS plans to release the guard in August but has yet to decide on a price. The company has already received requests from hospitals in Tokyo, Mie, Osaka, Kochi and Fukuoka prefectures and even those overseas.

A survey two years ago by Akihisa Kataoka, a 45-year-old doctor from Teikyo University who helped develop the shield, found that 20 of Japan’s 58 medical institutions, which primarily perform catheterization surgeries for people with heart valve problems, had female echocardiograph doctors as the main operators.

The ratio of young female physicians in echocardiography continues to increase each year, Kataoka said.

Working at a hospital in Kunisaki, Oita Prefectures, two days a week, Sakoda had been exposed to radiation during cardiac catheterization surgery for the treatment of heart attacks, among other illnesses, in the past.

“We could use our cultivated know-how as a manufacturer” to produce the protector, he said.

“Improving the working environment has been a pressing issue for the formulation of women’s careers. A long-held wish on the medical front has finally taken shape,” Kataoka said.