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How effective are lead-rubber aprons in protecting radiosensitive organs from secondary ionizing radiation?

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Introduction: The purpose of this experiment was to explore the direction of scattered secondary ionizing radiation to a patient. A left lateral radiographic examination of the elbow was deemed appropriate due to its close proximity to radiosensitive organs and record dose limiting opportunities upon wearing a lead-rubber apron. Methods: An anthropomorphic phantom and lead-rubber apron (Pb 0.35 mm) was used with a 15 cc ionization chamber (model 10,100 AT TRIAD) to measure scattered radiation to radiosensitive organs. Dose readings were recorded before and after in order to quantify dose reduction. Pearson's correlation, linear regression, t-test and one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistics were used to affirm how likely dose limitation was attributed to chance (p < 0.05). Results: The lead-rubber apron offered dose reduction to most radiosensitive organs. Notably, ionizing radiation was significantly reduced to the left breast 0.0083 μGy (98%), right breast 0.0000 μGy (99.9%) and spleen 0.0262 μGy (99.9%). No empirical benefit was recorded for testes and ovaries. Interestingly, the thyroid recorded an increase in dose (0.1733 μGy; p = 0.01). This was later mitigated using a thyroid collar but identifies increased stochastic risks if lead-aprons are worn alone. Scattered radiation was also reduced to both eyes, which were not directly covered. Conclusion: Lead-rubber aprons are generally utilized to limit ionizing radiation, yet this article offers insight whereby increases to ionizing radiation to the thyroid are plausible when wearing a lead-rubber apron alone. Whilst these findings cannot be generalized to other radiographic examinations it provides insight into a potential increase risk of scatter to a radiosensitive organ. Implications for practice: This paper has implications because it identifies that lead-rubber has an impact on scattered ionizing radiation to radiosensitive organs for a lateral elbow examination. Further, it identifies the potential for ionizing radiation to be increased to the thyroid upon wearing a lead-rubber apron alone.




Hayre, C. M., Bungay, H., & Jeffery, C. (2020). How effective are lead-rubber aprons in protecting radiosensitive organs from secondary ionizing radiation? Radiography, 26(4), e264–e269.

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