Protection from radiation is an essential prerequisite for all radiologic healthcare workers. The patient that you’re working so hard to help presents a direct danger to you when the x-ray apparatus is active. While there may be minimal leakage from the device itself, this doesn’t compare to the amount of scatter radiation that emanates from the patient in all directions around the room.
The patient being x-rayed is the main source of secondary radiation for everyone else around them. For the sake of your health, you need the correct equipment to guard against the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.
Protection from Radiation Exposure
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation is employed both in diagnostic and treatment procedures by medical professionals. These include x-rays and CT scans in departments such as radiology, interventional cardiology, and surgery. Fluoroscopic procedures are particularly concerning as they produce the biggest radiation doses to medical staff.
According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the System of Radiological Protection is based on three principles. Briefly stated, these are:
- Justification: Any decision that alters the radiation exposure situation should do more good than harm.
- Optimization of Protection: Doses should all be kept as low as reasonably achievable, taking into account economic and societal factors.
- Dose Limitation: The total dose to any individual should not exceed the appropriate limits.
The second of these principles is crucial to protection from radiation exposure in the workplace. Referred to by the acronym ALARA, it has three crucial components, namely the time of exposure, distance from the source, and shieldingg from radiation.
The ALARA Principle of Radiation
Radiation exposure is accumulated over time. This includes all the doses received while setting up, testing, and using x-ray equipment. Length of exposure time is also very important—a skilled radiographer will be able to minimize the duration and avoid repeat procedures for unusable or blurred images. C-arm fluoroscopy, in particular, requires a skilled operator to reduce exposure time.
Increasing the distance from the radiation source reduces radiation exposure. The amount of radiation exposure is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. This means that doubling the distance from the radiation source reduces exposure by a quarter. When working with x-ray devices, even two steps away from the center of the x-ray field can decrease the radiographer’s exposure by about 80%. However, this can be difficult to achieve during interventional procedures using real-time imaging, such as cardiac catheterization.
There are many items of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as aprons, lead glasses, thyroid protectors, radiation-reducing gloves, caps, etc. for radiation safety during x-ray imaging processes. Barrier Technologies® are leaders in the development and manufacture of lead and lead-free x-ray protection and apparel. However, the use of shielding PPE can be heavy and tiring, and cause musculoskeletal pain in the wearer.
Radiation Safety and Shielding
When looking at the components of the ALARA principle, reducing time and increasing distance can be considered active behaviors. However, they can be difficult to achieve in particular radiology examinations and procedures. In such instances, the passive component, shielding, has far greater significance in protection from EMF radiation exposure. Although x-ray PPE is extremely effective at shielding the wearer against the hazards of ionizing radiation, lead radiation protective barriers and shielding offer supplementary protection.
#1. What are lead radiation shields and barriers?
Lead barriers and shields are available in many forms designed for different medical procedures. They are ideal for guarding targeted areas of a patient, radiographer, or clinician’s body during radiographic procedures. These include mobile barriers and shields, table shielding drapes, and protective pads and blankets. For more information, visit our x-ray accessories and x-ray shield pads and drapes pages.
#2. What are mobile x-ray barriers?
Mobile lead x-ray barriers are on casters for portability and positioning. Many can be adjusted to different heights and locked into place. Some are equipped with see-through windows, for monitoring the patient during a procedure.
#3. What are the advantages of mobile x-ray barriers?
- Lead equivalent protection: Their lead (Pb) equivalence can be higher than for apparel. This generally ranges from 0.5mm–2.0mm lead equivalent.
- Choose your size: They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different imaging procedures, such as full height or lower body.
- Ease of movement: They are mounted on sturdy stands with casters, which enables them to be moved around the room or to a different room. Lockable casters keep them in position.
The Terminator XR: Offering the Best Protection from Radiation Exposure
Barrier Technologies introduces an innovative and intuitive mobile barrier—the Terminator XR™. Unlike conventional mobile barriers, the Terminator XR eliminates the need to wear a standard lead apron! If you suffer from musculoskeletal strain and pain due to wearing a heavy lead apron, then the Terminator XR is the perfect solution for you.
- 1.0 mm Pb equivalent per panel, and 2.0 mm Pb equivalent in overlapping areas provide up to 4x more protection than a standard apron.
- 100% attenuation at 160 kVp for optimal scatter protection.
- Completely mobile, body-contoured, height adjustable, and fully encapsulating.
- Offers unimpeded patient access and enables team members to work side-by-side.
- Stain-resistant, antibacterial UltraFlex™ fabric can be wiped down and cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant.
- Removes apron weight from shoulders, and can be leaned on to reduce arm strain.
- Height adjustable. (We can also customize it to your height.)
- Includes a special lightweight (2 lbs) vest and thyroid collar for maximum, full-body x-ray protection.
- Includes a case of transparent, single-use sterile drapes for fluid-heavy procedures.
- Customize it with your choice of color and the organization’s branding.
- Significantly more affordable than competing radiation barriers, especially hanging shields.
We’re Here to Serve You
The development of our Terminator XR mobile lead shield was inspired by requests from disgruntled physicians seeking a device that was mobile and easy to use. Our responsive technicians delivered a breakthrough solution.
You don’t need to experience debilitating musculoskeletal pain in the workplace, because we’ve got you covered. Our products are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and ease of use. We effectively shield you from the hazardous effects of scatter radiation without breaking your back or the bank!