700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

No More X-Ray Shields

Jan 21, 2021
Doctor examining x-ray

If your child receives an X-ray at Nationwide Children’s Hospital after March 1, 2021, you’ll notice a difference. They won’t have to wear a shield, sometimes called a lead apron. We are changing our procedure at the recommendation of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) in order to continue providing the best care possible to your child.

This recommendation comes after more than 50 years of research showing that levels of radiation used in modern X-ray machines are so low that the risk of harm is very small or even zero. In fact, the use of shields can actually cause higher levels of radiation exposure. They can hide body parts that doctors need to see. Sometimes this means an X-ray may need repeated. Also, modern X-ray machines – like the kind used at Nationwide Children’s – are designed to automatically increase radiation if objects (like a shield) are detected that block X-rays from getting through.

Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions regarding this change in procedure.

Can You Still Shield My Child?

Yes. If you prefer that we shield your child during an X-ray exam, we can so long as it doesn’t impact our ability to take images of the body part(s) the doctor needs to see. If the shield affects the image, this can result in higher levels of radiation exposure to your child.

Can Radiation Impact My Child’s Ability to One Day Have Children?

No. Research has shown that the radiation levels used in today’s X-ray machines does not cause damage to your child’s eggs or sperm. Also, the amount of radiation required to cause infertility is more than 100 times the dose from a single X-ray exam.

Why Do I Have to Wear a Shield but My Child Doesn’t?

Our goal is to keep the levels of radiation exposure to the patient, patient family and our staff as low as possible. When we take images of your child, we don’t want the shield to get in the way of this. When we take the X-ray, however, a small amount of radiation may bounce off your child and hit you. We ask you to wear a shield to protect you from this needless radiation exposure.

Why Were Shields Used in the First Place if They Have No Benefit to the Patient and Carry a Risk for Using More Radiation?

Shields were first recommended by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1976. At the time, they were thought to impact a person’s ability to have children. Now, after more than 50 years of research, we know this is not true. Also, modern X-ray machines use approximately 96% less radiation than the machines used when the recommendation was first made.

How Does the X-Ray Equipment at Nationwide Children’s Ensure the Lowest Level of Radiation Exposure to My Child?

Our Imaging Department uses only the latest X-ray technology. This technology means the least amount of radiation possible is used to produce high quality X-ray exams for children of all sizes. We also train our staff on low radiation imaging practices.

Radiology Services at Nationwide Children's Hospital
To learn more about our team and services, click here.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Lynne Ruess, MD

Lynne Ruess, MD is a pediatric radiologist and section chief of General Radiology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Julee Eing
Julee Eing, CRA, RT(R)

Julee Eing, CRA RT(R) is the clinical operations manager for Radiology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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Sarah Cline, CRA, RT(R)

Sarah J. Cline, CRA RT(R) is the clinical manager for General Radiography and Fluoroscopy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.