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Lead Apron Protection for Patients

As a quick review, x-rays are high energy particles with the ability to pass through solid objects, such as the human body. The health care benefits are enormous, however, there are many safety issues which must be addressed to avoid potential side effects for overexposure to radiation. As a patient receiving occasional radiation exposure, there is virtually no risk whatsoever as the amount of radiation is not great enough to produce damage to your cells, body tissues or organs. If you were to wear a lead apron or other protective device (shielding the body from the radiation exposure), the x-ray beam could not pass through your body. Without the x-ray beam passing through your body, the film would not receive any energy to make an exposure and the film would be blank. Therefore, in order to obtain a good quality diagnostic x-ray examination, the patient cannot have the body part which is being examined, covered or shielded. However, if you are receiving an x-ray of your hand or foot, for example, then it would be appropriate to shield your pelvic area with a lead apron to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure (as the pelvic area is not being examined in this case). Competent radiology technologists (the people who take the x-ray films) take great care to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to their patients. This mostly involves shielding body parts (with lead) not being examined.

Professionals and others who work in a radiology department are exposed to radiation every day. Over the many years of x-ray use, it was determined that a certain level of radiation protection is required for the people who work around x-rays. The radiology staff work with tremendous amounts of radiation that could produce harmful side affects if appropriate protection were not provided. Therefore, in order to provide a safe environment for health care workers, guidelines and rules have been established to ensure safety for all people involved with the production and interpretation of radiology procedures.

Howard I. Potash, M.D.
Drs. Hill & Thomas Co.

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