By Laurie Bonner

In a paper published April 20 in the European Journal of Radiology, radiologists from Tongji Hospital at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, offer strategies to protect radiologic technicians against exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Their review includes personnel arrangements, environmental modification, protection levels and configurations, radiological imaging, and disinfection methods.

  • Personnel arrangements. At Tongji, 18 radiologic technologists were selected to form three teams of six to perform diagnostic CT scans and digital radiography for COVID-cases. After trial and error, they settled into a schedule where each member works for five or six hours a day and then has a rest for about 24 hours. “The kind of schedule not only avoids long exposure to the virus, but also ensures adequate rest for the radiologic technologists,” the authors wrote.
  • Environmental modification. A designated CT scanner was used for infected patients. Patients and technologists approached the scanning room from different passages, and two buffer rooms separated the clean area from the contaminated area.
  • Personal protective equipment. Biosafety levels were classified according to the technologists’ level of exposure, and personal were required to wear protective gear including caps, surgical masks, respirator, protective glass, gloves, shoe covers, disposable gowns, and face shields. The PPEs were required to be put on and removed in a strict order, in a regimen that included multiple hand washings. The sequence took about 30 minutes.
  • Imaging. CT scans and digital radiography were performed by protocols that minimized direct contact with the patients. For CT, technologists enter the room with the patient only if the person needs assistance getting onto and off of the examination table.
  • Disinfection. Air disinfection, surface wiping disinfection and floor disinfection of different areas were performed daily. Contaminated areas were all equipped with ultraviolet lamps, the air was disinfected with UV lamps at least two to three times each day, and surfaces were wiped with ethanol or chlorine disinfectant at least twice a day.

Read more from the European Journal of Radiology.

Featured image: The flow chart of “three areas and two passages.” Three areas are set up including the contaminated area, potentially contaminated area, and clean area. Two buffer rooms are added between potentially contaminated area and clean area. Medical personnel and patients approach the exam room from different passages. Credit European Journal of Radiology.