A New Option Against Radiation Exposure: Dr. Xiaoke Liu Discusses His Use of the ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System

Interview by Jodie Elrod
Interview by Jodie Elrod
In this interview with Dr. Xiaoke Liu, Director of the EP lab at Borgess Medical Center, he describes his experience using the new ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System (CFI Medical Solutions, Fenton, MI). Unlike conventional lead aprons and their equivalents, the ZeroGravity system is a new option for radiation protection. Describe the components of the ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System. How is it worn? There are 2 components. The first is the base unit that resembles a crane. It supports and allows the second component, the radiation protection suit, to move around. The system can also be mounted on rails on the ceiling. The other component is the suit that is attached to the base through a cable and is made up of leaded glass and apron. The operator is connected to the suit through a light, magnetic vest that the operator wears. How long have you been using the ZeroGravity system? Approximately how many cases do you think you’ve done so far with this new system? We have been using the system for a couple of weeks now, and have probably done about 30 cases thus far. How many systems are available in your lab? Is it shared with the cath lab as well? There is just one system for the EP lab. We frequently do relatively long, complex ablation procedures in the EP lab and there is a higher risk of substantial radiation exposure. For example, it is not unusual to have total fluoroscopy time exceeding 30 minutes during complex atrial fibrillation ablation cases in the EP lab. The system is not shared with the cath lab right now because the EP lab is pretty busy. The unit is mobile, but so far we’ve been using it exclusively for EP cases. Tell us about your experience using the ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System. Have you noticed a difference in your health and in your back? I have noticed a difference, I have to say. Especially when doing atrial fibrillation ablations, spending hours wearing the lead really takes a toll on your back and shoulder. With the ZeroGravity system, the base crane supports all the weight, so there is minimal pressure on your body. My back does feel better now after long ablation procedures, so I think that this system does help quite a bit. Was there a learning curve getting used to the technology? For example, is visibility or accessibility different during cases? I think there is probably some learning curve for the technicians, who have to make sure the system is sterile and move different equipment around it. You do have to put on some special drapings and be careful not to get the drapings contaminated. But for myself, there is not much of a learning curve. You put on the vest and immediately can walk around and see what you’re doing from behind the leaded glass, and both hands are free. I do feel that my mobility is restricted a little, especially in the beginning, but it did not slow me down much. When you’re not using fluoro, you can take the suit off and push it to the side and still do your other work like usual. I also occasionally noticed some glare from the leaded glass portion of the system, but we have been able to minimize that by adjusting the lighting in the lab. How has the ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System changed the way you do procedures? For example, is there any difference in case time or in prepping for procedures? Preparation is slightly longer, especially in the beginning, because you have to put sterile drapes on the suit and you have to move other equipment around to make enough room for the system. After that, I did not find that it lengthened my procedure time much. Are special methods used to keep the ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System sterilized after every procedure? No, because the part of the suit that is in direct contact with the sterile field is covered by disposable sterile draping. How is the ZeroGravity Radiation Protection System stored? Although mobile, the unit is stored in the EP lab at all times. Describe its level of protection compared to standard lead aprons. The thickness of the lead apron is 1 millimeter, which is twice the thickness of the usual standard lead aprons. In addition, this system offers front and side protection as well as protection over the whole head. However, while using the new system, I could not use the extra leaded glass shield that I normally use because we do not have enough room to fit into both. What do you think are the benefits of this new system? Compared to traditional lead aprons, I feel that this system is easier on your spine and shoulder. This hopefully will reduce the incidence of orthopedic problems in operators. I think it will potentially offer better protection because of the thickness of the lead apron as well as the nearly full coverage on the body. Hopefully, an official comparison study will become available soon. For more information, please visit: www.zgrav.com