Answer to Question #10189 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Equipment/Shielding — Shielding

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

I am a pediatric anesthesiologist and I am looking for more information regarding the appropriate shielding of pediatric patients who are exposed to radiation during procedures in the operating room (i.e., during port-a-cath placements, orthopedic procedures, etc.). I need specific information to help educate operating-room nurses and anesthesiologists about when and how to cover patients' gonads, etc. Can you please help guide me or forward this email to the correct person?
Thank you for your concern about your pediatric patients' exposure to radiation!

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to your question. Radiation shielding is necessary if the gonads are in the direct beam of radiation, i.e., you can see them on the fluoroscopy monitor or on the image. However, they can only be shielded if the shielding is not going to interfere with the image. Shielding the ovaries is particularly difficult, since the location varies from one person to another.

If the gonads appear in the image and are not in the the area of interest, then the technologist operating the x-ray equipment should cone the beam down so it is only irradiating the area of interest. This also reduces the amount of scattered radiation to the staff in the room.

It is not necessary to shield the gonads if they are not in the x-ray beam. They will receive scattered radiation, but it is scattered from within the body. In that case, it is not possible to shield the gonads.

I hope this helps to provide you some guidance.

Joel E. Gray, PhD, FAAPM, FACM
Answer posted on 16 April 2012. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.