Safety First: Effective Interaction with Radiation Protection Shields in X-Ray Environments

In the constantly evolving field of medical imaging, the miraculous ability to peek inside the human body using X-rays has transformed healthcare. However, with such groundbreaking technology comes the responsibility of ensuring safety from the potentially harmful effects of radiation.

This blog delves into the crucial role of radiation barriers in X-ray environments, shedding light on their significance and offering insights into their proper usage and maintenance. Prioritising radiation safety is not just a regulatory mandate but a commitment to the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals. Join us as we explore the mantra ‘Safety First’ in the world of radiology.

Importance of Workplace Safety in X-Ray Environments

Every year, countless medical imaging procedures are performed, harnessing the power of X-ray and gamma radiation. While these imaging techniques are essential for diagnostics and treatments, the effects of radiation on health cannot be overlooked. In particular, ionising radiation, which includes X-rays, gamma rays, and radioactive particles, can lead to harmful radiation exposure if not properly managed.

The guiding principle for radiation safety is to keep the radiation dose “as low as reasonably achievable.” By understanding and respecting the power of the source of radiation, healthcare professionals ensure that neither they nor their patients face unnecessary exposure to radiation.

Solutions for Reducing Radiation in X Ray Environments

Lead Shielding

One of the primary methods to attenuate or reduce the effects of radiation is the use of lead metal. Given its high molecular density, lead shields are adept at absorbing Xrays, preventing them from passing through and exposing individuals. It’s paramount in radiology, nuclear medicine, and other areas where radioactive material is used.

Lead is a soft, highly malleable metal and can therefore be easily transported in the form of a roll. These rolls can be flattened out and bonded to plasterboards or plywood boards for use as wall and ceiling shielding for controlled areas to keep the radiation isolated within the room. to ensure only the patient is exposed as and when required.

lead lined doors

X-Ray Protective Fixtures

Covering walls and ceilings with lead-lined boards will prevent a large portion of the radiation from escaping the room, but there are still some large holes for X-rays and the like to escape; of course, I am talking about the doorways you use to enter and leave the room. Enter, Raybloc’s specialist lead-lined doorsets – specifically designed to prevent radiation leakage whilst still operating as a standard doorset. To the untrained eye, these doorsets will just appear to be premium healthcare doors, however, there is far more than meets the eye.

These barriers, specifically designed to prevent radiation exposure from X ray sources, are crucial components in any X-ray environment. Through carefully tailored design, they incorporate a hidden maze of lead sheets that ensure that those outside the immediate imaging area, perhaps in adjoining rooms or corridors, are safe from the radiation source being used.

X-Ray Protective Viewing Windows

Just like the doorways mentioned in the previous paragraph, the same holds true for any glazing that stands between the controlled area and the surrounding space. For those operating imaging equipment, such as during a fluoroscopy procedure or CT scans, these specialised viewing windows allow professionals to monitor the procedure without direct exposure. Made with materials that attenuate radiation, they are crucial in ensuring radiation protection.

X-Ray Operator Screens

Commonly in radiology, it is typical for the radiographer to want to be in the room whilst the X-ray image is being taken. Since X-ray rooms are generally less powerful than the likes of CT, we can actually make a radiation-protective barrier within the room for the radiographer to stand behind – something we like to call an operator screen, but may also be referred to a nursing station or control desk.

Safe Interaction with Radiation Barriers

Proper Barrier Positioning

When setting up, always ensure that the primary and secondary barriers are positioned effectively to shield against direct and scattered X ray, respectively. A Radiation Protection Advisor (RPA) is the appropriate authority for stating where protection should be positioned and the amount of lead required to effectively attenuate the radiation.

Maintaining the Integrity of Barriers

Over time, wear and tear can compromise the effectiveness of radiation barriers. Regular inspections by an RPA  to determine whether an X-ray emitted from the radiation source can penetrate the shield should take place for the safety of all who use the facility.

Adjusting and Handling Mobile Barriers

Mobile barriers, essential in versatile imaging environments, need careful handling. Always ensure they are positioned effectively to attenuate radiation exposure.

What is the Primary Barrier and Secondary Barrier in Radiology?

The primary barrier protects against direct radiation, while the secondary barrier safeguards against scatter radiation and leakage.

Xray Screen

Maintaining X-Ray Radiation Barriers

Regular Inspection for Wear and Tear

To fully understand the effectiveness of your Raybloc radiation-protective products, an RPA should regularly assess the equipment by using a dosimeter on the protected side of the product to ensure that the radiation levels behind the product are acceptable.

Cleaning and Storing Barriers

Given there is no visibly exposed lead on Raybloc’s radiation shielding fixtures and X-ray screens, there is no concern that cleaning the barrier will affect its shielding properties. That being said, an appropriate cleaning agent should be used for the surface that you are cleaning to help maintain the aesthetics of the barrier.

When to Replace or Upgrade Barriers

Stay updated with advancements in medical imaging and radiation protection technology. Outdated barriers might not provide optimal protection against newer radiation sources, so any alterations to the room’s radiation source will also require a new Radiation Protection Advisor test report to make sure the existing lead shielding remains effective.

It is important that radiation-controlled areas consider aesthetics to comfort the patient during their sometimes daunting experiences – Raybloc offer a wide range of finishes and options on our products to promote relaxing environments.

Final Thoughts

Interacting safely with radiation barriers is paramount for healthcare professionals and patients. By ensuring proper usage and maintenance, we can significantly reduce the harmful effects of radiation and continue to benefit from the advancements in imaging technology.

FAQs

What is the most common material used to provide protection against X-rays?

Lead is the most commonly used material due to its ability to absorb and attenuate X-ray radiation effectively.

What are the different types of radiation barriers used in X-ray facilities?

There are several, including mobile and fixed operator screens, internal viewing windows, doorsets, and lead-lined panelling for walls and ceilings. Each of these types of barrier uses lead as an attenuating material to prevent the passage of X-rays – together, they create a complete radiation protective room to contain radiation within the controlled area.

What should I do if I need to access an area protected by radiation barriers during an X-ray procedure?

Always consult with the radiology technician or radiologist before entering. It’s essential to minimise radiation exposure and maintain safety. Raybloc doors denote whether it is safe to enter with flush LED illuminated signage on the face of the door.

To find out more about our X-ray protection products, download our eBook today.

Lead Lined Wall Panelling

Do not skip corners when it comes to radiation protection. It is what shields you, your staff, and your patients from harmful radiation. There is no compromise when it comes to people’s lives. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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