Answer to Question #11404 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Patient Issues — Diagnostic X Ray and CT

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


Last week I went for the first time to a podiatrist for an issue with my right toe. While I was waiting in a room to see the podiatrist, the door was ajar by about 10 centimeters (cm) and I could see that a patient was standing on a foot x-ray machine, about 2 or 3 meters (m) away from me. The podiatrist's aide took three x rays of that patient's foot. How much radiation did I absorb from scattered radiation? I am really concerned.


You absorbed virtually no radiation. Most of the radiation would be absorbed in the other patient's foot and the image receptor. A small fraction of 1% would scatter (bounce) in your direction, and at a distance of approximately 2 m or more the radiation would be even less. Radiation intensity drops with the square of the distance, so at approximately 2.5 m the radiation level is one sixty-fourth of what it is at 0.3 m. Your radiation exposure that day was more from radiation in the natural environment than from the three x rays you saw performed.

Kent Lambert, CHP

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