This report describes occupational radiation doses of interventional cardiologists over 15 years and assesses action undertaken to optimize radiation protection. Personal dosimetry records of nine staff cardiologists and eight interventional cardiology fellows were recorded using personal dosemeters worn over and under their lead aprons. The hospital in which this study was conducted currently performs 5000 cardiology procedures per year. The hospital has improved its facilities since 1989, when it had two old-fashioned theatres, to include four rooms with more advanced and safer equipment. Intensive radiation protection training was also implemented since 1989. Initially, some individual dose values in the range of 100–300 mSv month−1, which risked exceeding some regulatory dose limits, were measured over the lead apron. Several doses in the range of 5–11 mSv month−1 were recorded under the apron (mean = 10.2 mSv year−1). During the last 5 years of the study, after the implementation of the radiation protection actions and a programme of patient-dose optimization, the mean dose under the apron was reduced to 1.2 mSv year−1. Current mean occupational doses recorded under the lead apron are 14% of those recorded during 1989–1992 and those recorded over the apron are 14-fold less than those recorded during 1989–1992. The regulatory dose limits and the threshold for lens injuries might have been exceeded if radiation protection facilities had not been used systematically. The most effective actions involved in reducing the radiation risk were training in radiation protection, a programme of patient-dose reduction and the systematic use of radiation protection facilities, specifically ceiling-suspended protective screens.
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