The Dosimetry and Ionising division at the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB UPC) has participated in a project to develop methods for estimating the radiation dose in the crystalline lens of the eyes of healthcare staff. The aim is to identify staff who could develop cataracts (loss in transparency of the crystalline lens) due to exposure to ionising radiation. In operating theatres, it is very difficult to make these estimations as various people are involved in operations and the dose depends on different parameters (distance to the source of radiation, quality of the source, exposure time). Consequently, systems have been developed to quantify exposure using thermoluminescent dosimetry and to evaluate different methods of protecting staff (lead aprons and glasses, lead thyroid shields, protective screens, etc.).
Studies have been carried out in health centres such as the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid; Hospital de la Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona; and the Clínica Universitaria de Navarra in Pamplona. The results showed that if no protective measures are used, 40% of doctors who carry out operations may receive a dose that is close to the limits established in European legislation.