Patient Resources

Lead Apron Shielding


1.    Why do you not shield patients anymore?

Patient shielding has been used for more than 70 years. We have better equipment that uses much less radiation and operates differently. We also know more about how radiation affects the human body and that some parts of the body - like the testicles and ovaries - are less sensitive to radiation than we used to think.

Most modern X-ray, fluoroscopy, and CT machines can automatically determine how much radiation to use based on the part of the body being imaged. If a shield gets in the way, it could mean an increase in radiation dose.

Since we have equipment that can give us better information using less radiation than in the past, patient shields are no longer beneficial.

2.    Doesn’t shielding make me safer?

The amount of radiation used in most imaging exams is so small that the risk to you is either very small or zero. 

3.    But what’s the harm in shielding?

When the reproductive organs are far away from the part of your body being imaged, there is no benefit from using shielding. When the part of your body receiving X-rays is close to your reproductive organs, a shield may cover up parts of your body that your doctor needs to be able to see. If this happens, we may have to repeat your exam.

4.    Won’t radiation exposure to my sperm or ovaries harm my future children?

Since the 1950s, people were concerned that radiation might damage sperm or eggs and that this damage would be passed down to your future children. However, this has never been seen in humans even after many generations (years) of studying it closely. This is true even for people who have been exposed to much larger amounts of radiation than what is used in medical imaging.

5.    What if I’m pregnant?

We have equipment that can give us better information than ever before and can get good images using much less radiation than in the past. However, placing shielding over your belly can reduce the quality of the exam if it gets into the image and in some cases can increase the overall dose from the exam. Since shielding your belly provides no benefit to your baby, it is better to not do it.

6.    Will you still shield me if I want you to?

We will honor your request if it is possible to do so without compromising the exam you are having.

Lead Apron Shielding Trifold.

Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.