Lead Apron Use During Imaging Exams May Be Unnecessary, Some Radiologists Say

Kaiser Health News (1/15, Jaklevic) discusses the use of lead aprons to cover “reproductive organs and fetuses during imaging exams,” stating that “new thinking among radiologists and medical physicists is upending the decades-old practice.” The article says the aprons have been used based on the idea that they shield patients from unnecessary radiation exposure, but some “prominent medical and scientific groups have said it’s a feel-good measure that can impair the quality of diagnostic tests and sometimes inadvertently increase a patient’s radiation exposure.”

Radiation from the process of taking dental X-rays has long been a hotly-debated topic, but the point is moot these days for many reasons. 1) The amount of radiation is enormously less than even 15 years ago; 2) The reason for use of lead aprons goes back since dental X-rays were first used in 1896 (do the math: 125 years ago …) and everything – literally – has changed since that time; 3) Countless studies have demonstrated the lack of scatter radiation as well as comparing what radiation a person does reason from all other sources, from being outside to even eating a banana!

Hopefully, this long-antiquated practice will soon end, but as long as there continues to be misinformation spread all over the Internet, people believing with all their heart in the own beliefs about radiation, rogue health care workers continuing to provide misinformation, and plenty of attorneys looking to make a buck, dental offices will likely be forced to continue this practice of using a lead apron because of public perception and fear of loss of patients if they don’t use lead aprons.