Common Medical Procedures That Require Radiation Protection

There are many different medical procedures that can provide doctors with advanced diagnostic information and surgical capabilities that were not present just a few decades ago. The equipment that is used for some of these techniques can emit radiation or relies on the transmission of radiation in order to view the inside of the body without requiring exploratory surgery. Doctors and patients must sometimes wear radiation protection gear such as leaded glasses and thyroid shields in order to stop harmful levels of energy from accruing in the body while working with patients.

Radiation Protection

Standard X-Rays

X-Rays are a type of electromagnetic energy that can pass through certain substances but that are partially blocked by denser areas of matter. Patients who receive an x-ray have this type of radiation showered through a particular area. An imaging film is placed under the limb or area that is be being imaged. The result is that dense areas inside of the body such as bone, parts of internal organs or tumors create gaps in the film while less dense areas appear dark because the x-rays change the color of the film. Standard x-rays are used extensively because they are very fast, inexpensive and highly accurate for diagnosing basic problems, such as a broken bone or a fracture.


One of the more advanced diagnostic uses for x-rays is known as fluoroscopy. This is a procedure that can give doctors the ability to actually see the internal functioning of the body in real time. This type of imaging is performed by passing x-rays through the body that are then captured by a digital sensor or a fluorescent screen. The procedure is commonly performed to examine potential problems in the gastrointestinal tract, to assist in certain types of surgeries and to view the functioning of the veins and arteries during an angiogram. Most doctors must wear leaded glasses and x-ray aprons because of the duration of radiation exposure that occurs in order to capture enough data for a diagnosis.

Laser Procedures

Lasers are used extensively in cosmetic procedures and are becoming more common in fields such as dentistry. Lasers give surgeons the ability to accurately remove layers of skin or tissue, to create clean and sanitary incisions and to cauterize tissue as needed. Some types of lasers that are used medically do emit very high amounts of radiation that need to be avoided. Often this is a concern when working with delicate handheld instruments because of the proximity of the device to the body. Leaded glasses are very important for people who are working with lasers because the energy can be particularly devastating to the structures of the eye.

Article Jeremy P Stanfords

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