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So Long, Shields!

Lee Health no longer uses lead shields for children during imaging.

To provide the highest quality diagnostic exams at the lowest health risk, Lee Health will no longer place lead shields over your child during X-ray exams. 

This change is based on years of research that show radiation levels in modern X-ray exams are so low that the risk of harm is small or near zero. In short, shields provide no added benefit for patient safety. 

Studies have also shown that shielding carries the risk of using more radiation and could cover a body part that the doctor needs to see. 

For patient safety, experts on X-ray radiation agree that patient shields should not be used. 

Discontinuation of patient shields is supported by the following:

  • In April 2019, the FDA-recommended to end the use of gonadal and fetal shielding on patients during medical diagnostic X-ray procedures.
  • In April 2019, The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) recommended not using patient shields.
  • Research has shown that radiation levels used in modern X-ray exams have no hereditary effects (i.e., mutations in the reproductive system).
  • Use of patient shields may hide anatomy that the doctor needs to see and lead to repeat exams.
  • Modern X-ray machines are designed to automatically increase radiation if it detects objects that block X­rays from getting through. Therefore, patient shields can trick the system into increasing radiation.
  • Lee Health only uses the latest X-ray imaging technology. The radiation used for our diagnostic imaging exams is among the lowest in the countryPeds-Imaging.jpg

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do I have to wear a lead apron, but my child does not? 

A: Our goal is to take medical images of your child. We need X-rays to make the image, so, it’s important that we don’t block any X-rays by placing a lead apron on your child. However, when we take the X-ray, a small amount of radiation may bounce off your child and expose you. 
We want to protect you from these stray X-rays by having you wear a lead apron. We also want to protect our staff from regular exposure that could be harmful as they do this every day.

Q: Can you still shield my child? 

A: Yes, we will shield your child if it is possible to do so without compromising the quality of the exam. We understand that a shield can be comforting and ease fear and anxiety about the X-ray exam. However, shielding carries the risk of using more radiation, and there are some exams that can never be done with a lead shield because It could cover a body part that the doctor needs to sot.

Q: My child receives routine X-ray exams. Is my child at greater risk of harm from radiation? 

A: There is no evidence that risk from multiple over a patient’s lifetime adds up. To ensure safety and quality, our radiation safety team performs risk reviews on patients who receive multiple X-ray exams In a short period of time to see if added radiation may be harmful. Our staff is happy to answer any questions or concerns about the amount of radiation your child is receiving.

Q: Why was patient shielding used in the first place if it provides no benefit to the patient? 

A: The FDA first recommended patient shielding in 1976. At that time, shields were thought to protect patients from hereditary risks. Now after more than 50 years or research, we know that is not true. In addition, modern X-ray machines use 96 percent less radiation than machines used when the recommendations were originally made.

Q: Could radiation to my child’s gonads harm their future children?

A: Research shows that radiation levels in X-ray exams do not lead to hereditary risks. Also, radiation does not affect fertility.

Q: What exams will be done with patient shields?

A: No patient shields will be used during X-ray, CT, or fluoroscopy exams.

Q: What other information should I know?

A: Children and other patients cannot become radioactive after an exam. The latest technology ensures the least amount of radiation is used to produce high quality x-ray exams for all pediatric patients.

  • Pediatric Shields