Lead aprons are a common sight in the medical profession. They are used to protect patients and healthcare providers from dangerous radiation that is emitted by some diagnostic equipment, such as medical imaging equipment. This equipment is used to provide a diagnosis for many health conditions by using radiation to create the images.
Protection against radiation is extremely important as damage may occur that can be harmful to a fetus or to the body. Lead aprons must be carefully and properly used in order to prevent exposure from the x-ray examination. These protective materials will be put in place by a trained professional and they will urge patients to keep them in place until told otherwise.
Patients who have frequent medical imaging performed must take further precautions to prevent exposure. The lead apron and other radiation protection will be put in place to keep exposure as low as possible for patients. Aprons should be inspected to ensure that the material is not torn or damaged in any way. The medical staff will check these protective tools before placing them on patients to provide the safest radiation protection.
Pregnant women or breast feeding women must take special precautions to protect themselves from radiation when having imaging performed on the abdomen, chest or pelvic regions. Serious complications can arise from exposure during medical imaging and can have a negative impact on the growing fetus. This may lead to birth defects or other ailments as the developing baby is otherwise exposed to harmful elements during imaging. The use of protective equipment can shield both the mother and developing baby from these x-rays when imaging must be performed. Care is also taken to provide lead aprons for women who are breast feeding to protect both them and their baby. It is especially important for women to ensure that the sides of the breasts are covered during chest x-rays in order to obtain the best protection possible.
Lead aprons are also used in dentistry to protect patients when x-rays are taken of the mouth. Protective equipment is placed on the patient's chest while the images are taken of the mouth. Staff may also incorporate the use of radiation protection for themselves while taking the images. Repeated exposure may have negative long-term consequences, making it vital that all precautions be observed. Protection against radiation is a top priority for any staff member of the imaging team, and a number of tools are available to protect patients while still providing the diagnostic tools necessary.