Archives for July 2011

Agarose: The Chemical That Keeps On Giving

From diagnosing diseases to separating molecules, the chemical agarose is used in a variety of medical and science applications. Believe it or not, agarose is actually derived from agar, which is extracted from the cell walls of red algae. Agar also has a presence in many laboratories. It is often found in environmental science and pharmaceutical development where it is used for growing bacteria, viruses, plants and other types of cells. So why do these laboratories use agar? This unique substance has a low melting point and has the ability to prevent cells from eroding the agar.

How does agar become agarose?

Agar is purified and broken down into the chemical, agarose. The chemical comes in several different forms. Agarose starts in a powder form and can be turned into a gel when the powder is mixed with water. The agarose gel has a consistency that is similar to rubber resins. When the agarose gel is combined with certain additives, the gel can also be rolled into small beads.

The many forms of agarose provide ample opportunities for the chemical to be used in several medical procedures and laboratory tests. Some of the procedures and tests include the following:

  • Monitor the progression of a disease
  • Collect information about a sample that has unknown properties
  • Separate DNA, RNA and protein molecules
  • Analyze molecular size

Because agarose can be used in a multitude of ways, it is not uncommon to come across this chemical in many fields of science. It is frequently found in microbiology, forensics, genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology. The use of agarose is more common than you may think. Many middle schools, high schools and colleges teach laboratory classes that use various forms of agarose.

What makes agarose so special?

Like agar, agarose has several rare characteristics. The chemical has the ability to take on several different forms including a powder, gel and beads. It has large pores which allows for the easy passage and separation of molecules, including DNA and proteins. The chemical also carries a neutral charge, meaning that it is not positively or negatively charged. With the simple structure of agarose and its many uses, it easy to see why this chemical is used across so many professions.

How-To Find The Right Size X-Ray Apron

Proper shielding is essential when protecting against radiation. X-ray aprons come in a variety of sizes, styles, product materials, colors, and patterns. Today we will be focusing on the sizing and style. When selecting an x-ray apron, size and style, are the two leading factors one must consider. A doctor who spends many hours exposed to radiation will have to decide which style of x-ray apron he/she desires depending on the application they are using it in. For example, if a doctor turns around during a procedure, exposing his/her back, then a full wrap around or full skirt and vest apron is highly recommended. If the procedure doesn’t involve much movement and the doctor only exposes the chest area, then a frontal apron is appropriate.

Now that you know the style you want it’s time to pick the size, and believe me when I say “size really does matter” in this circumstance. Never try to squeeze yourself into an apron or go for a baggy look.  Having an apron that is too big can lead to gaps, which increases your risk of exposure. The extra weight can also be cumbersome. If the apron is too tight, you risk limiting your mobility, which is essential in the operating room.  If fashion is your main concern check out our post on lead apron designs.

Sizing up your x-ray apron is an easy process. First decide the style apron you desire. If you picked a frontal apron then there are only two measurements to consider. The first measurement is your chest size and the second is your length. When referring to one piece aprons your length is the distance from your shoulder to the top of your kneecap. We have constructed sizing charts for each style apron that will give you the most comfortable and safe fit.

For a full wrap around apron you will still be considering your length, but instead of a chest measurement you will be factoring in your suit/dress size for maximum protection and comfort.

If you are trying to size up for a full vest and skirt apron there are two lengths to think about. These lengths include the length of the vest and of the skirt. The vest length is from the shoulder to a couple inches past the waist and the length of the skirt is the distance from your waist to the top of the kneecap. This will create an overlap for full protection. The last measurement you will need is your suit/dress size.

The full skirt and vest option will give you a stronger custom fit for full protection. It also offers an even weight distribution onto your waist and shoulders reducing stress on your lower back. If there is ever an instance where you feel you are in between sizes always go with the bigger choice for maximum protection and comfort.  X-ray aprons are also designed with buckles and velcro straps for additional fine tuning. Let us know what you think of our post. Feel free to visit our radiation protection page to see a variety of products we offer.

Lead Aprons: A New Fashion Trend?

Want to become the most popular Rad. tech in your department?  Then maybe you should start updating your wardrobe. As radiation techniques advance, lead aprons have been progressing in stylish colors and patterns. The last time I wore lead, I was receiving an X-Ray. During the procedure I couldn’t help but imagine that a picture of a lobster on my apron would be a nice touch instead of the drab gray it was. I have yet to see this style (let me know if you find it), but the trend of custom designing lead aprons as well as non-lead is becoming more noticeable.

There are many different styles Rad. Techs or doctors can choose from as well as designs depending on the radiation exposure. 

The colors range from hot pink, to camouflage for our troops. You can now pick a favorite color and who knows maybe even grab the attention of your boss you have been trying to impress. From a psychological perspective, the fun designs might be something to consider when working with young children undergoing an operation.  It’s a great way to make them feel less intimidated as well as show their guardians you care.

One may argue that these new styles can be distracting in an environment where focus is important. For those who feel this way, the new colors and designs can also be used for organizational purposes. Hospitals that are trying to keep their departments structured can color code or use the embroidery option for labeling. This will also keep the lead aprons from bouncing in between departments as well. It is vital for occupations exposed to radiation to be properly protected. More importantly, those affected on a daily basis. Radiation is not something to take lightly, but with the custom designing of lead aprons it’s a nice way to lighten the mood of any stressful environment.