The objectives of this study were to investigate scattered radiation doses to the hands of equine workers holding the cassette and the x-ray tube by hand, for both limb and vertebral column studies, and to compare the scattered radiation attenuation of lead with radiation protection lead-free gloves. Radiation doses to the hands of the cassette holder in the primary beam were also investigated.
A whole-body horse cadaver.
A portable x-ray unit was used to simulate 6 radiographic study types in the horse cadaver. Doses were measured with no shielding and, for cassette holders, with the ion chamber enclosed in a lead glove and a lead-free glove. Thirty exposures were performed for each study view and condition (n = 1,920).
Mean scattered doses to x-ray unit operators were higher than doses to cassette holders for ungula (hoof), thoracic vertebrae, and lumbar vertebrae studies, whereas doses to cassette holders were higher than doses to x-ray tube operators for studies of the metacarpophalangeal joint (fetlock) and tarsus (hock). Doses did not differ for the stifle joint. Mean percentage decrease in scattered radiation dose was 99.58% with lead gloves and 98.9% with lead-free gloves.
X-ray tube operators can be exposed to equal or higher scattered radiation doses to the hand as cassette holders. Lead-free hand shielding should only be considered as an alternative to lead gloves if their lighter weight increases frequency of use by workers.