During X-rays, fluoroscopic exams and other medical procedures that emit ionizing radiation, health care workers take great care to limit patients’ radiation exposure. But the workers themselves are also at risk for exposure to unsafe amounts of radiation — particularly because of scatter radiation.
Scatter radiation is a type of secondary radiation that occurs when the beam intercepts an object, causing the X-rays to be scattered. During most imaging procedures, the patient’s body is the object that deflects the radiation and causes it to scatter around the room, which means that anyone who is nearby must take precautions.
In some cases, as with dental offices, the technologist is able to step out of the room during the exam, thus lessening the chance of an accidental exposure. But in cardiac catheterization labs, for example, physicians, nurses and technologists must be near the patient in order to complete the procedure. Here are some best practices to protect against scatter radiation:
Always collimate the beam to the specific area being treated — the larger the amount of tissue the beam is penetrating, the greater the chance for scatter radiation.
Ensure that the treatment area is closed off from all other areas by lead walls and doors.
Use lead aprons and shields for protection from the beams.
Use a dosimeter to track your dosage.
Mirion provides Instadose®+ dosimeters, which allows users to track their dosage on a computer or mobile device at any time.
Regular exposure to scatter radiation adds up — and may cause health issues. By taking the appropriate safety measures, a long fulfilling career in the industry is possible.
When scatter radiation occurs, it reflects more harmful secondary radiation in all directions.
Where you choose to place the imaging beam, dictates how much scatter radiation will bounce around the imaging room.
Scatter radiation is associated with skin damage, eye injury, and increased risk of cancerous lymphocytes and chromosomal abnormalities.