Answer to Question #10628 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Equipment/Shielding — Lead Aprons

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

I recently observed an endovascular aortic aneurysm repair. I initially did not have a lead apron on. About 15 minutes later I was given one and tried to face the tube with it for the duration (another 60 minutes). However, I was not provided with leaded eyewear. When in the room, I was about 1 meter away from the patient. Am I at any risk?

Your information did not indicate the actual amount of time the x ray was activated (i.e., how many minutes of fluoroscopy were performed during the 75 minutes of the procedure), if you are a trained radiation worker or a nonoccupationally exposed person as a visitor in the room, or if you were issued a dosimeter.

Despite all of the above, it is most likely that you did not receive a radiation dose greater than 1 millisievert. This is the annual dose limit for members of the general public (while the annual limit for radiation workers is 50 millisieverts). From a risk standpoint, this one instance should not be a problem in regard to how much radiation dose you received.

The issue that needs to be addressed is that anyone in the room during a fluoroscopic x-ray procedure should be issued a lead apron, and radiation safety training and/or a radiation dosimeter should be issued depending on the potential for radiation dose that the individual may receive while in that room (or any other room with x-ray equipment).

The state that you are in regulates the use of medical x ray and usually provides requirements regarding training, shielding, dosimetry, etc. The facility is obligated to follow any state rules and any corporate radiation safety policies that relate to those rules. The facility should also have a radiation safety officer who is responsible for making sure that the rules and policies are followed.

In your case, if you are ever present in a room with fluoroscopy, you should have a lead apron and should stand as far back as possible to decrease unnecessary radiation exposure. If you are standing closer to the patient as an educational practice, and if this is something that will happen repeatedly (as opposed to just one or two instances), then you should receive some radiation safety training and possibly a dosimeter. Lead glasses are typically used by persons with the highest radiation exposure to the lens of the eyes, typically just the physicians who are performing the cases.

I recommend that you discuss this with the radiation safety officer for the facility. This will assure that the facility's processes work properly and that you and others will be protected from unnecessary radiation exposure as required.

Kennith "Duke" Lovins, CHP
Health Physicist

Answer posted on 3 April 2013. 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.