AAPM weighs in on x-ray shielding

2016 09 08 13 50 18 153 Radiation Symbol Circle 400

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) on August 19 released a letter addressed to x-ray imagers regarding the use of patient gonadal and fetal shielding in diagnostic x-ray imaging.

The letter is an attempt to further a conversation initiated by the AAPM's position statement on the topic, and it emphasizes that the "AAPM position statement reflects the growing consensus among medical physicists that the routine use of patient gonadal and fetal shielding, once a mainstay of patient radiation protection, may no longer be best practice for protecting our patients."

These shields provide no tangible benefit to patients, wrote President Cynthia McCollough, PhD, and can "compromise exams by blocking important patient anatomy or increase patient dose when detected by an automatic exposure control system."

The association has formed a new committee, called Communicating Advances in Radiation Education for Shielding (CARES), that will discuss possible changes in the use of patient shielding.

"While science can lay the groundwork, facilitating a data-driven discussion, any meaningful dialogue about potential changes to clinical practice must include all members of the medical imaging community," McCollough wrote. "Radiologic technologists, medical physicists, health physicists, radiologists, and regulatory agencies are all committed to the same goal -- the safe and effective use of medical imaging."

AAPM is inviting comment on the issue of patient shielding. Those interested in offering feedback can email the association at cares@aapm.org.

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