Radiation Blog

X-ray Protection – The technological solution for best protection

08.25.20 | Tuesday | Nofit Amir

Medical intervention requires the use of various techniques and equipment, one of the most common among them being X-rays. Changes in diagnostic and surgical procedures have led to a sharp increase in the use of X-ray radiation compared to ten or twenty years ago. This increase has also necessitated the rethinking of and inventing newer techniques within the scope of X-ray protection.

Traditionally, X-rays are conducted by covering the patient and the radiologist with lead-lined aprons to prevent any potentially harmful effects. Recent advances in imaging technology have reduced radiation dosages to about one-twentieth of the corresponding amount used since the 1950s. Many researchers have even negated the requirement of using lead aprons over patients during an X-ray. However, X-rays are also used for minimally invasive surgical procedures and fluoroscopies, where real-time moving images are needed for diagnostic purposes or therapeutic interventions. As such X-ray protection is of vital importance to medical teams who work around radiation. Let’s take a look into the best technological solutions currently available for X-ray protection.

What is the need for X-ray protection?

The radiation dosage of X-rays is very minimal and not likely to cause any immediate side effects. The radiation usually wears off over a few days, hence the low level of risk. However, those who work in radiology and around X-rays are more susceptible to risks from long-term exposure. X-ray radiation works by passing through living tissues in order to produce images of bones and internal organs. Prolonged exposure to this form of radiation, even at low dosages, can increase the risk of cancer at a later time in life. The affected individual is also likely to experience hair loss, fertility issues, thyroid problems, skin issues, etc. The best way to safely use X-rays is to use suitable radiation protection. Shielding from radiation can be done in many ways, though the best approach to X-ray protection is the use of lead-lined protective gear.

The importance of X-ray protection for medical practitioners and interventionist

Studies have shown that medical interventionists who work around X-ray radiation are more likely to develop some form of cancer at a later stage in life. The use of X-ray protection has likely reduced the associated radiation risks to some extent, but there is always scope to improve on existing precautionary protocols. Basic fluoroscopy protection can minimize the danger of radiation from X-rays.

One aspect that is not typically accounted for is that of scatter radiation. Medical professionals are the ones who stand closest to patients during procedures involving fluoroscopes. The radiation particles scatter after they hit the patient, and this increases the radiation dosage experienced by the medical team. Even with suitable lead-lined garments, adequate X-ray protection is not a given. Moreover, leaded gear can be quite heavy to wear, and wearing them for long hours while bending over the surgical table can cause stress injuries on areas like the neck, spine, hips, and knees. There is clearly a need for better X-ray protection for physicians.

What are the top X-ray protection solutions?

There is a major concern regarding the radiation exposure experienced by physicians and radiologists working around X-rays. Because of this, medical and imaging equipment now comes with reduced dosage while still producing sharp and accurate images. When it comes to other technological solutions for X-ray protection, here are a few:

Bilayer leadThis protective garment provides extended coverage that shields much better than traditionally manufactured leaded gear. It also offers better shielding without the heaviness associated with wearing lead-lined protective equipment.

Real-time dosimeters – Dosimeters worn on the person and designed to measure exposure to radiation typically take time to raise an alarm if the radiation level is high. Real-time dosimeters do not take as much time, and it becomes easier for the individual to quickly remove themselves from the vicinity of the radiation source.

Robotics and angiography systems – Automating specific processes can certainly bring down exposure to radiation. As a contender for X-ray protection, it may be a while before we see wider acceptance of robotic arms and automated systems within operating rooms, but they do help medical teams in preventing long-term exposure to X-ray radiation.

Which is the best X-ray protection solution?

StemRad’s radically new X-ray protection suit for physicians is an incredible design that takes into account both safety from radiation and the comfort of working efficiently. The radiation protection gear is lead-lined but does not burden the user with its weight. StemRad’s lightweight lead version of X-ray protection gear consists of a proprietary exoskeletal frame that bears the weight of the entire outfit, while also incorporating hip and knee joints for better mobility. This frame also holds the weight of the visor that is used as a face shield, the thyroid collar that is attached to the visor, and the expanded lead protection apron. The user can wear the X-ray protection outfit without having to bear the weight of the accessories. The visor also accommodates the wearing of prescription glasses. The entire outfit is designed by focusing on mobility within the operating room while also shielding the individual from X-ray radiation.

How to ensure maximum protection

The basics of X-ray protection revolve around taking adequate steps to minimize exposure to radiation. This includes reducing the time spent within the room where X-rays are used. The dosage administered should also be kept minimal. The medical professional should maintain a safe distance from the patient during procedures when radiation is used. Furthermore, X-ray protection gear should be worn according to prescribed safety protocols.

The use of the right X-ray protection outfit will help minimize the potential side effects of radiation in the long term. The benefits might not be immediately visible but interventionalists can be assured of safety, particularly with a radical technological solution like StemRad’s exoskeletal system for radiation shielding that also offers the best protection.

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