3 Different Types of Radiation Shielding Materials (Part 1)

What are the different types of radiation shielding materials?

Radiation shielding materials are used for a variety of radiologic applications. “The use of radiation in diagnosing and treating patients has significantly advanced the field of medicine and saved or extended countless lives¹.” Advances in technology and more sophisticated applications have improved standard treatments for the benefit of the patient. Radiation use does, however, come with risks. “Those who use radiation must be adequately trained in radiation safety, radiation physics, the biologic effects of radiation, and injury prevention to ensure patient safety¹.” One of the three major principles of mitigating external radiation exposure is shielding, “Using absorber material such as Plexiglas for beta particles and lead for X-rays and gamma rays is an effective way to reduce radiation exposure².”

Radiation Shielding Materials

Historically, radiation shielding materials have been manufactured from lead (Pb). Lead shielding, often used in a variety of applications including diagnostic imaging, radiation therapy, nuclear and industrial shielding. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the three different types of materials used in manufacturing x-ray attenuating garments such as aprons, vests, and skirts.

Radiation Shielding Materials

Radiation shielding garments are commonly used to protect medical patients and workers from direct and secondary radiation during diagnostic imaging in hospitals, clinics and dental offices³. Historically, the attenuating qualities of lead made it “the element of choice” for radiation protection. However, advances in radiation shielding material technology have produced two alternative materials, lead composite and lead-free radiation shielding. Now medical professionals have several options when it comes to selecting their radiation shielding garments.

Traditional Lead (Pb) Shielding

Lead is a chemical element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable and corrosion-resistant material³. The high density of lead (11.34 grams per cm³) makes it a useful shield against X-ray and gamma-ray radiation. Lead, in its pure form, is brittle and cannot be worn as apparel. To transform pure lead into a wearable radiation shielding material it’s mixed with binders and additives to make a flexible lead vinyl sheet. The lead sheets are then layered to the desired thickness to achieve the required lead equivalency and incorporated into the radiation shielding garment. There are typically three standard levels of lead equivalency protection for traditional lead radiation shielding garments including 0.25mm, 0.35mm and 0.5mm.

Lead (Pb) Composite Shielding

Lead composite shielding is a mixture of lead and other lighter weight metals. These lead-based composite blends are a proprietary mixture of lead and other heavy metals that attenuate radiation. The lead composite blend will vary by manufacturer as they have developed their own proprietary blends that may include a mixture of lead, tin, rubber, PVC vinyl and other proprietary attenuating metals. The lead-based composite blend radiation shielding garments are lighter (up to 25%) than regular grade lead and are available with the same lead equivalency protection levels.

Non-Lead (Pb) and Lead (Pb) Free Shielding

Similar to the proprietary blends of lead-based composite shielding materials the non-lead and lead-free shielding materials offer the same protection levels. Non-lead shielding materials are manufactured with additives and binders mixed with attenuating heavy metals that fall into the same category of materials as lead that also absorb or block radiation. These metals may include tin (Sn), antimony (Sb), tungsten (W) bismuth (Bi) or other elements. Non-lead aprons and lead-free aprons are recyclable and safe for non-hazardous disposal. The material blends are propriety to the specific manufacturer; therefore; the materials mentioned above are not representative of any specific manufacturer.

Benefits of Shielding Options

The three core material options discussed all have their own unique benefits and features. There are several factors you will want to consider when making your decision, including the specific procedure being performed, length of the procedure, and frequency of the procedure. To determine the proper amount of protection required in your working environment contact your radiation safety officer or radiation physicist. Selecting the right radiation shielding garment begins by identifying the core material option right for you.

(Part 2)  How to determine which x-ray apron material is right for you

In our next post, we will discuss how to determine which x-ray apron material is right for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Why Are Head & Neck Positioners Important In The OR?

Why are neck and head positioners important for patients to use while in the operating room? The number one reason for positioning a patients head with a positioner in this situation is safety purposes. Many patients need support of their head and neck  to relieve pressure while going in to surgery.

Below are a few examples of a few different kinds of head and neck positioners we offer.

  1. Head & Neck Support is an ideal positioner for general skull work. Dimensions are 6.5″ high x 10″ wide x 12″ long
  2. 5.5″ D Ring is a reusable foam positioner that provides a safe area for minimizing pressure points and nerve damage during surgery. Dimensions are 5.5″ diameter x 1.5″ thick with a 2″ hole in the center.
  3. Slotted Adult Head Positioner has a soft flexible coating to provide comfort to patients, with 1″ deep slots for tubing. Dimensions are 8.5″ x 8″ x 4″ thick at the highest point, 3″thick at center.
  4. Waters Positioner was especially designed for laminographs of the orbits and facial bones. Dimensions are 7.4″ high x 12.4″ wide x 8″ long.
  5. Concave Disc are ideal for general skull work in general positioning, CT scan, MRI, nuclear medicine, and ultrasounds. Dimensions are 7″ in diameter and available in  1.5″ high, 2.5″ high and 3″ high discs.

Making sure patients are comfortable, safe and don’t develop pressure sores or pain. With our large selection of head and neck patient positioners, you’ll be able to find the support needed for your medical setting. Have any questions on this post? Let us know in the comment box below!

It’s Multiple Sclerosis Month, 5 Things To Know About MS

March is Multiple Sclerosis month, which gives awareness to a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks a person’s central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). It’s important for people to understand what multiple sclerosis (MS) is and how this disease can impact a person’s life.

  1. MS symptoms can range from mild to severe, since MS is unpredictable and often varies from person to person. Symptoms may include numbness to the limbs, or for more severe symptoms paralysis or loss of vision.
  2. Today, there have been great advances in MS research and new treatment options that provide hope to those with this disease.
  3. While it’s not proven that MS is hereditary, having a relative such as parent or sibling with MS can increase a person’s risk for developing the disease.
  4. Maintaining good health is crucial for people with MS. This includes proper nutrition, exercise, emotional health, etc.
  5. There are many ways to support MS research and awareness. A few examples are joining an MS event (walk, bike, fundraising), becoming an MS activist, and staying informed.

In an effort to spread knowledge of multiple sclerosis, we hope you share this information. For more information, be sure to visit National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Lead Markers For Clinical Education

Lead Markers

Lead markers for radiography are also known by a number of different names including Pb markers, X-ray markers, anatomical side markers, and radiographic film identification markers. Lead markers are used to mark X-ray films in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Most lead markers come color-coded to denote right and left on X-ray or radiographic images to assist the radiographer or radiologic technologist on identifying the right and left side of the body. The lead markers will generally have a letter R for the right and the letter L for the left as well as the radiologic technologist (R.T.s) initials.

Radiologic Technology Program

When students are admitted into a radiologic technology program it can be overwhelming at first. There are a number of important things that you have to take care of before your first day of class. You will have to schedule a physical and get your immunizations before you can start your clinical. After you have taken care of your immunizations you can look forward to picking out your clinical attire usually including white shoes, division scrubs, name tag, lead markers, and radiation monitor.

Required Equipment

All radiologic labs require students to have their radiation monitoring badge (radiation dosimeter), lead markers, and name tags before entering the X-ray laboratory. Many programs will consider the student out of acceptable uniform if they show up to their clinical assignment without his or her personalized lead makers. Lead markers are very important when performing procedure evaluations and must be used on all images of the exam. Generally an explanation of the use of any other markers must be noted on the procedure evaluation form by the technologist. Most programs require the student to keep a record of all the examinations he or she assists in a performs in a daily clinical log book. The total number of procedures participated in by the student must be recorded on a tally sheet or “tallies”  that is submitted at the end of each semester. School policies usually require the student’s personalized lead marker to be present on the film to be marked “performed”, please check with your school for specific course information.

Program Specific Requirements for Lead Markers

Many programs will have explicit rules in place regarding the use of lead markers. It is common practice to require the student to purchase their own set of markers before starting the program although some schools provide lead markers for their students. Lead markers are usually customized with the students initials and thereby used to identify which procedure was performed by the student. Schools will usually hold the student responsible for all radiographs bearing their markers so it is important to notify the clinical coordinator immediately if markers are lost.

Questions? 

Check with your school or program to determine what policies are applicable to you. Upon acceptance, most programs will send you a welcome packet or handbook with detailed information regrading program information. Congratulations and good luck on your journey!

Weekly Wrap For December 2 – December 6, 2013

Proper Handwashing Techniques & Tips

Proper handwashing is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people. The first full week in December is National Handwashing Awareness Week. To help celebrate and help raise awareness of the importance of handwashing we will share some helpful tips and techniques to stay healthy. What is the right way to wash your hands? 

Benchmark Scientific – Mortexer Vortex Mixer With Multi-Head

This week [December 2, 2013 through December 6, 2013] we are offering a special Buy One, Get One Free“ promotion on our Mortexer™ Vortex Mixer with Multi-Head™ from Benchmark Scientific. When you buy one Mortexer™ Vortex Mixer [BV1005] at the regular price you will receive your second one free. The free unit will automatically be added to your cart with purchase.

What Are The Parts Of A Lead Eyeglass Frame?

Why are lead eyeglasses important? The risk for radiation induced eye injuries are particularly high for health professionals such as interventional cardiologists, interventional radiologists, doctors using fluoroscopy in operating theaters and paramedical personnel who remain close to the patient during the procedure.

Whiteboard Wednesday: What You Should Do After Using PPE Supplies

Today on Whiteboard Wednesday we discuss proper ways to dispose your PPE (personal protection equipment) supplies after use. Properly disposing your PPE supplies in your medical facility is very important for reducing the spread of infection. Be sure to watch our Whiteboard Wednesday video below!

The Different Types of Ultrasound Scans

There are several different types of ultrasound scans depending on the part of the body being examined. There are external, internal and endoscopic ultrasound scans. An external ultrasound involves the use of a an ultrasonic sensor also known as a transducer or transceiver which is placed on the patients skin and is moved over the body part being examined. An ultrasound gel is applied to the skin to improve the movement of the transducer and ensure continuous contact between the skin and the transducer. 

What Are The Parts Of A Lead Eyeglass Frame?

Why are lead eyeglasses important? The risk for radiation induced eye injuries are particularly high for health professionals such as interventional cardiologists, interventional radiologists, doctors using fluoroscopy in operating theaters and paramedical personnel who remain close to the patient during the procedure.  These individuals may be within the high-scatter X-ray radiation field for several hours a day during procedures.

It is important to protect your eyes from potential radiation exposure and reduce the risk of eye injuries. When selecting a pair of lead eyeglasses it is important to understand the various parts of the lead glasses. Once you have purchased your lead eyeglasses you may be wearing them for the majority of your workday so you will want to ensure that you find the most comfortable style frame possible. Below are common terms used to describe the different parts and sections of the lead eyeglasses.

Frame Front: The frame front is the section of the lead eyeglass that holds the lenses in place and bridges the top of the nose.

Eye Wire/Rim: The eye wire or eye rim is the part of the frame front where the lead lenses are inserted.

Bridge: The section between the lenses that sit above the nose is referred to as the bridge. There are several types of bridges listed below in more detail.

  • Keyhole bridge: Shaped like an old-fashioned keyhole and rests on the upper sides of the nose, this style is perfect for individuals with small or flat nose bridges.
  • Saddle bridge: Shaped like a saddle and evenly distributes the weight of the lead eyeglasses across the sides and top of the nose, works well for heavy lead glasses and those who are sensitive to pressure.
  • Adjustable bridge: Nose pads are designed to be adjusted for fit and comfort.
  • Double bridge: The double bridge has a second reinforcing bar that goes over the top of the bridge.

Hinges: The part of the frame that connects the frame front to the temples and allows the temples to swing.

Lead Side Shields: Shields offer additional protection and are made from removable lead equivalent plastic.

Lead Lenses: Lenses are made from 0.75mm lead equivalent (medical industry standard) that provide radiation protection for the eyes. Available in prescription and non-prescription lenses.

Temples

  • Skull temples: The most popular for plastic frames, they are bent down slightly over the ear and follow the contour of the skull.
  • Spring-hinged temples: Some frames come with a spring-hinge for added comfort and increased protection from breaking.
  • Library or paddle temples: This particular temple style is straight and is designed so that they can be slipped on an off easily.

 End Pieces: The extensions of the frame front where the temples are attached.

Nose Pads: The nose pads are made from a soft material like rubber or plastic to help keep the frame in the proper place. They can be attached directly to the glasses or to the pad arms.

Pad Arms: The pad arms are attachments that hold the nose pad in place and allow for adjustment to the bridge.

Top Bar: Frequently found in aviator style glasses, this reinforcement bar crosses the top of the lead eyeglasses on some metal frames.

Temple Tips/Ear Piece: Generally a plastic coating used to cover the ends of the temples behind or over the ears.

Rimless Frames: Rimless frames or mountings attach the temples and bridge directly to the lenses without the use of eye-wires or rims.

Selecting the right pair of lead eyeglasses is important and we are here to help you along the way. We recommend consulting with your radiation safety officer for more local standards and  information for your facility. Remember, whether your staff is working around radiation every day or once a month, it is crucial to keep their eyes protected from harmful radiation exposure! If you have any questions please feel free to contact us directly via email or live chat. We are always looking to assist our customers by providing them more knowledge to ensure they make the right choice, if you have a particular question that you feel would make a good addition to our blog, please leave a comment below.

Why You Need MRI Safe Products In Your Medical Facility

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a medical imaging technique for producing images of internal organs and other soft tissues. An MRI is performed in radiology departments and requires special MRI safe equipment due to it’s strong magnetic field.

In clinical practices an MRI is used to differentiate pathologic tissue from normal soft tissue. The advantage of performing an MRI is that the process is safe for the patient, granted you’re following the appropriate safety protocol and using MRI safety equipment.

Because an MRI system uses a strong constant magnetic field, items must be MRI safe before entering the room. We’ve heard of many stories where products such as jewelry, belts, mop buckets, wheelchairs, etc. were brought into the MRI suite causing a strong magnetic pull of the objects. As you can imagine, this presents major danger factors for both patients, medical personnel and the possible damage towards the MRI machine.

Our line of MRI safe products includes a variety of products that are necessary for use in your MRI suite. For example, fire extinguishers are often a required product to have and our MR Tested Fire Extinguisher was designed for this purpose. This 5 lb. fire extinguisher is recommended to be used in and around MRI rooms, is effective for Class B flammable liquids and is electrically non-conductive. Our non magnetic lighting selection allows for the proper medical lighting in the MRI suite. The MRI Surgical Light – Dual Ceiling Mount is ideal for surgical and specialty procedures in MRI facilities. This light will be unaffected by the magnetism associated with MRI applications.

MRI safety is crucial for keeping patients and medical personnel safe during necessary MRI applications. To check out all our MRI products, be sure to visit our website for our full line. If you have any questions or comments please let us know below.

North American Occupational Safety and Health Week

It’s that time of year again, the first full week of May means it’s North American Occupational Safety and Health Week!  May 5th – May 11th is dedicated to bringing awareness about the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace.

From our past blog posts, you may have noticed that we’re big on safety equipment and safety procedures. In the medical field, work accidents can happen easily. With the right safety equipment and guidelines your facility can reduce the chance of accidents in your medical workplace. This post will highlight the importance of work safety and a few products that are helpful for best safety practices.

In the medical field, work safety is essential. In order for medical personnel to perform their duties safely, there must be safety procedures and guidelines in place. It’s also important to use high-quality safety equipment to keep medical staff fully protected.

In applications that require the use of radiation, full protection is typically required. Products such as lead aprons, lead glasses, lead masks, patient shields, thyroid shields, lead apron racks, lead gloves, scatter drapes, etc. can protect against radiation. Our Fit Over Lead Glasses are common and are designed for those looking for eye protection to fit over existing eyewear. Harmful radiation can cause serious injuries, so it’s important to use protective equipment when applicable.

Laboratory applications require a variety of lab safety items including gloves, disposal boxes, eyewash stations, medical safety glasses, biohazard bags, etc. The High-Temperature Gloves are necessary when handling hot objects from an autoclave or oven. These soft, pliant, terry cloth gloves provide excellent heat protection up to 450°F.

A few MRI safety products include fire extinguishers, metal detector, test magnets and warning floor mats and signs. The Clean Agent Non-Magnetic Fire Extinguisher contains DuPont FE-36, an extinguishing agent that is clean, electrically non-conductive, environmentally friendly, extremely low in toxicity and exceptionally effective.

Is your medical facility celebrating North American Occupational Safety and Health Week? Remember, a safe medical workplace is an effective medical workplace. If you have any questions or comments, let us know in the comment box below!

You Asked For A Radiolucent Papoose Board

We Listened

For many years, we received requests from our customers asking for a solution for restraining patients during diagnostic imaging procedures.  We listened to your requests and developed a papoose board that can be used in diagnostic imaging without image artifacts.

100% Radiolucent Design

Constructed of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) our unique papoose board is durable and completely radiolucent.  Traditional papoose boards have metal rivets which make the board unusable for diagnostic imaging procedures. For improved patient comfort, our new papoose board features padded foam flaps which safely secures the patient to the board. The closed foam material is also used as padding for the head strap in case the patients head needs to be restrained.

A Solution For Diagnostic Imaging

While common in the dental industry, the papoose board was not compatible with diagnostic imaging equipment because of metal components. These metal components would cause image artifacts on the x-ray reducing the quality and effectiveness of the image. By simplifying the design, our new papoose board is 100% radiolucent and is ideal for diagnostic imaging applications including X-ray imaging procedures and MRI scans. The medical industry doesn’t have to wait any longer for a papoose restraint board that will help take diagnostic images of uncooperative children, infants or even adults.

How To Properly Select A Pair Of Lead Glasses

Even the smallest exposure to x-ray radiation to the eye can cause radiation poisoning. The symptoms of radiation poisoning include weakness, nausea and hair loss. This is why lead glasses should be worn at all times when working around radiation. These glasses are able to block a significant amount of radiation that comes from diagnostic imaging machines.

Lead glasses are used in radiology labs, hospitals and dentist offices. They are often worn by the patient who is receiving the treatment and the healthcare staff. How do radiation glasses protect the eyes from radiation? These glasses are able to absorb the radioactive particles and scatter the particles away from the eye. They are able to reduce the amount of radiation the eyes are exposed to by about 98%.

There are several factors you should consider when selecting the right pair of lead glasses. First of all, you should look at the lead equivalency of the radiation glasses’ lens . The medical industry standards for lead equivalency of lead glasses are .75 mm. You should make sure that the radiation glasses meet the industry standards or exceed them to insure adequate protection from radiation exposure. If you are looking for glasses that offer the maximum protection, there are models available with side shields to provide additional wrap around protection.

Next, you should look at the amount of visibility of the lead glasses. The lens should offer clear visibility during medical procedures. Many radiation glasses can come with a prescription or bifocal lens. It is also possible to purchase radiation goggles, which can fit over a pair of prescription glasses.

In terms of fit, you should make sure the nose piece of the lead glasses fits comfortably and securely on the nose. The ear piece of the glasses should either wrap around or rest on the ear. To offer the maximum amount of protection from radiation, the frame of the lead glasses should fit closely to the side of your head. This close fit will allow the glasses to stay on during medical procedures.

And remember, it is better to be safe than sorry. Always wear your lead glasses when working around radiation.