Section VIII. PRACTICING RADIATION PROTECTION
The previous discussion shows how adverse biological effects can occur as a
result of exposure to ionizing radiation. The discussion also shows that the effects can
occur well within the dose levels used in medical x-ray diagnosis and treatment.
Consequently, radiation protection must be the concern of every x-ray specialist. In
addition to having some knowledge of the biological effects of ionizing radiation, you
must practice positive, protective measures in the exposure room. Furthermore, it is not
enough to limit the protection to yourself, the x-ray specialist; the patient deserves, and
should be given, equal consideration to keep his exposure also at a minimum. The final
responsibility for protecting both yourself and the patient from needless exposure to
radiation rests with you. Granted, health physicists, radiologists, supervisors, and other
personnel establish and maintain protective programs in the radiology department. But
without the constant efforts of the x-ray specialist who makes the radiographs, effective
protection against ionizing radiation will not exist. This section will present some
procedures to be used by the x-ray specialist to reduce exposure to himself, to patients,
and to others who must be present in the exposure room.
4-34. PROTECTION FOR THE SPECIALIST
Good working habits, common sense, and proper respect for ionizing radiation
are very important in radiation protection. With present day knowledge and the vast
amount of protective resources at your disposal, there is absolutely no reason for you to
even closely approach the maximum permissible dose. If proper precautionary
measures are practiced daily, the risk involved in being an x-ray specialist is very small
when compared to other risks such as driving a car or crossing the street. The steps
necessary to keep your exposure at a minimum can be divided into two categories: (1)
those that protect you from the primary beam, and (2) those that protect you from
secondary and scattered radiation (SR).
a. Protection from the Primary Beam. Protecting yourself from primary
radiation is very simple: do not expose any part of your body to the primary beam. This
means that during exposure you should never hold a patient or cassette, or in any other
way subject yourself to primary radiation. In addition, you should not allow another
x-ray specialist to perform these tasks. If assistance is needed to obtain a radiograph
on uncooperative patients, use someone who is not occupationally exposed to ionizing
radiation and be sure that he wears protective clothing such as lead gloves and apron.
b. Protection from Secondary and Scatter Radiation. Although the intensity
of SR is less than primary radiation (for a given technique), the radiation hazard to the
x-ray specialist is perhaps greater with SR. The reason for this is because SR can
reach virtually all parts of the exposure room while the primary beam is restricted to an
area which is much smaller by comparison. Therefore, while it is a simple matter to
remain clear of the primary beam, it is somewhat more difficult to elude SR. Following
are some general rules.