We are asked the question several times a week: "Is my medical imaging device required to be shielded with lead-lined walls?"
The question is asked of rad rooms, R/F rooms, and C-arms alike- any device that produces X-rays. Ultimately, the answer isn't as clear as most of us would prefer and depends heavily on three main factors. We'll share those factors below as well as a helpful tool to help you learn more.
State Laws Vary
Although many of us wish radiation shielding regulations were consistent from state to state (for simplicity and the best balance between safety and practicality), the fact remains: each state has unique laws. Some states require no lead lining at all, while other states require varying thickness based on the system.
Not only are the laws unique, there is no uniformity in the names of the agencies that oversee radiological health. Some states house their radiology health division within the Department of Health, others have created seperate radiology departments, while still others link radiation safety with their environmental agencies. A quick search of your state’s official website should lead to a phone number to call or another, more direct web portal to the applicable agency or sub-agency. To help, you can download the list we've compiled of Radiological and Health Department Links by State to direct your search.
Once you have verified whether or not your state requires lead lining, the next factor in determining what type and/or thickness your system needs is the placement of the system in relation to human exposure. Many states have strict laws if the system is used in a room that backs up to a waiting room, versus an outside wall or a storage closet. As one could guess, the more public exposure, the more likely lead lining will be required. A quick call to the overseeing department in your state can answer your questions.
The type of procedures you will be performing is the final determining factor. Some states have exemptions for fluoroscopy-based equipment based on the routine position of the X-ray source. For example, if your work has your C-arm always facing down toward the floor, you may be covered if your state offers exemptions. If that same C-arm is used in a variety of positions, however, emitting beams on a wall, a different set of rules may apply.
The quickest way to answer your questions is to look up your state's radiological or health department and make a phone call. For contact pages from all 50 states, download the list of radiological and health department links here. We have found most of these agencies helpful and willing to point you in the right direction.
Of course, Block Imaging is also here to help you navigate the regulatory requirements for any piece of imaging equipment you purchase.
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