Answer to Question #11607 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:


I was at the hospital with my younger sister, and an x-ray technologist asked me to hold my sister while they left the room to take her throat or chest x ray. I was asked to wear a lead apron. However, I was still a little uncomfortable because of the possibility of x rays scattering and entering my body. I asked the x-ray technologist if he could bring a nurse to do the job, but he said that the nurses were all busy and it would not take very long. I felt even more uncomfortable but had no choice except to stay in the x-ray room. Do you think I was overreacting? Should I be worried?


There should be no reason for concern since the radiation dose you received was very low. Diagnostic x rays of the chest or neck require very little radiation exposure. The reason the technologist leaves the room during the exposure is that the technologist would be exposed many times a day.

Since you were wearing a lead apron, the amount of scattered radiation that you received was minimal—many times less (on the order of a few percent) than you would receive from that same examination as a patient.

It is better to have someone hold the patient than risk the patient moving during the x-ray exposure and making the image unusable. In this case, a second x ray of the patient would have to be taken, thereby increasing the patient's dose.

It is common practice to ask a relative or friend to hold (when necessary) a patient during an x-ray examination. It is better that a relative or friend hold the patient rather than a stranger as it is more comforting.

Joel Gray, PhD

Answer posted on 27 May 2016. 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.