Rethinking x-ray lead shielding.

Rethinking x-ray lead shielding. 

For years, lead shielding the gonads and other sensitive areas were required when taking an x-ray.   Whether it was a dental or a chiropractic image, it was taught that shielding was necessary. Quality control programs that offices use include the maintenance of lead shields.

In the chiropractic world, we take fewer x-rays than we did 30 years ago and shielding often would get in the way of structures that you needed to view, so it was rarely used.

Collimation was often done instead because it would limit radiation exposure by using a smaller aperture from the x-ray beam which is made by the doctor or tech when the image is taken. This reduced radiation scatter and patient exposure.   Now, with modern digital x-ray, images can be modified and fixed which further reduces repeat exposures for patients.

Today, fewer dentists used shielding as well and current research is now suggesting that it is not necessary for most regular x rays taken with modern equipment.

An x-ray tech who takes x rays all day is going to be exposed to more radiation than any patient and has far more risk.  This is why they wear an x-ray badge that will be evaluated periodically to make sure they do not absorb too much radiation.  Walls are also lined with lead in most x-ray rooms and facilities to reduce radiation scatter which can affect doctors and techs as well as patients.

Recently, the NY Times reported on the latest research regarding lead aprons and how the industry is slowly eliminating them for most regular x-ray images.  Check the article out below

That Lead Apron in the X-Ray Room? You May Not Need It

A number of radiology organizations are trying to end the decades-old practice of shielding patients from radiation with lead aprons.

By Mary Chris Jaklevic | Kaiser Health News
Jan. 14, 2020

CHICAGO — Patients have come to expect a technician to drape their torsos with a heavy lead apron when they get an X-ray, but new thinking among radiologists and medical physicists is upending the decades-old practice of shielding patients from radiation.

Some hospitals are ditching the ritual of covering reproductive organs and fetuses during imaging exams after prominent medical and scientific groups have said it’s a feel-good measure that can impair the quality of diagnostic tests and sometimes inadvertently increase a patient’s radiation exposure.

The about-face is intended to improve care, but it will require a major effort to reassure regulators, health care workers, and the public that it’s better not to shield.

Read more