Radiation has undoubtedly changed the way the medical world operates for the better. Being able to gather accurate and timely information about injuries, fractures, and much more in a non-invasive way has improved medicine a thousand-fold. For the most part, the radiation emitted by x-ray and C-arm machines is harmless to the patient. But how does a radiation technician avoid the radiation that they work with day after day? Here is information you can use to help protect yourself as you provide the best healthcare possible.
Ionizing radiation occurs when a wavelength of x-rays bump into the electron of an atom, creating what’s called a radical. Radicals are highly reactive, and interfere with molecular bonds within DNA molecules. This can lead to mutations within cells, which leads to the more obvious danger of cancer. Unfortunately, other damage can occur, including radiation-associated cataracts and thyroid problems. Radiation isn’t a direct beam only, as it can scatter against protective lead plating and affect the legs, arms, hands, and chest.
One of the best things a radiology technician can do is get as much distance from the source of radiation as they can. Radiation follows the “Inverse Square Law”, which states that radiation dissipates inversely as the distance from the source is squared – if you stand twice as far away from radiation you’ll receive only a quarter of the dose. Retreating behind protective glass or walls will increase this protection. Naturally, you’ll also want to guard yourself with lead-shielded equipment, including apron, protective pads for arms and legs, and leaded glasses. A dosimeter badge can help a technician know when they’ve received to much radiation: these should be worn beneath lead-lined protective clothing. Dosimeter rings are also available for hands while working with x-ray machines.
The phrase “do no harm” is often shared to patients of medicine, but it should apply as well to the brave men and women who practice medicine every day. Remember to stay safe, and use the best equipment on the market to ensure the best service possible. Contact Pacific Healthcare Imaging today.