Answer to Question #11607 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
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