One way staff in environments that generate X-rays is through the use of a lead apron. Usually, conventional aprons consist of lead-induced vinyl material.
The use of lead apron especially in fluoroscopy because X-ray beams tend to remain for an extended period. Lead effectively block x-rays and gamma rays because it is dense.
So, lead shielding through a lead apron provides a shield from radiation during x-ray diagnosis. reproductive organs must be protected during x-ray services.
The correct thickness of lead aprons depends on the duration and frequency of use. Besides, the minimum effective thickness is 0.25mm. The aprons absorb approximately 90 to 95% of the scattered radiation that reaches them.
Experts recommend the health care workers continue using leaded shields for occupational safety even though it may be unnecessary. In some states, lead aprons are necessary and therefore must be used in certain procedures.
Although developments in radiology have resulted in low radiation doses, the use of ionizing radiation is harmful to human tissue. So, lead aprons protect against scatter radiation, which decreases the overall radiation dose for the patient.
Also, in some practices like oral health, professionals have an obligation to protect their patients by all means. The protection includes efforts that decrease radiation exposure to patients.
Origin of the use of lead apron
Like many of our actions that involve radiation, the use of lead aprons was a result of exaggerated fear of radiation. Particularly low-level radiation. It seems the fear began after the Second World War and formalized in 1959.
At this time, the world accepted a singular hypothesis for the negative effects of radiation. The fear of radiation is engraved in our collective psyche.
Some concerns about use of lead apron
However, over the past few years, there are concerns about the use of lead aprons. It turns out the use of a lead apron can be harmful. That is because lead aprons can impair the quality of diagnostics.
Also, in some cases lead aprons can increase radiation exposure to patients. Studies show that the use of lead aprons during X-ray imaging can obscure anatomic details.
Not only does it compromise on the diagnostic efficacy but also demands more imaging, which increases a patient’s radiation dose. A lead apron can result in automatic exposure controls by an X-ray machine.
Nevertheless, it is surprising to many that lead aprons can result in problems. With that said, in some quarters like dentistry, the concerns have got gotten much traction. Dentists carry out approximately half of all X-rays.
What’s more, positioning lead aprons accurately is difficult and often miss the target area they need to protect. Even in the correct place, they can obscure the areas a doctor needs to see.
Today, the amount of radiation necessary for X-ray is a fraction of what was needed in the 1950s. Besides, scientists have not found any measurable harm to reproductive organs like testicles and ovaries in patients.
Although there is no evidence of harm even for relatively high radiation exposure, some patients still insist on lead shielding. So, lead aprons for such patients have a calming and comforting role.