AAPM clarifies x-ray shielding recommendations

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) has published an open letter Aug. 19, explaining its decision earlier this year to recommend against gonadal and fetal shielding during x-ray exams.

The position statement, which was endorsed by the American College of Radiology (ACR), found shielding may “obscure anatomic information,” potentially compromising exams and could increase a patient’s radiation dose.

In the letter, Cynthia H. McCollough, PhD, president of AAPM, noted their statement was created to spark a larger conversation within the x-ray community and that it “reflects the growing consensus among medical physicists that the routine use of patient gonadal and fetal shielding, once a mainstay of patient radiation protection, may no longer be best practice for protecting our patients.”

The AAPM also announced the formation of the Communicating Advances in Radiation Education for Shielding (CARES) committee. CARES is made up of various stakeholders who will discuss possible changes in the use of patient shielding.

“While science can lay the groundwork, facilitating a data-driven discussion, any meaningful dialogue about potential changes to clinical practice must include all members of the medical imaging community,” McCollough wrote in the letter. “Radiologic technologists, medical physicists, health physicists, radiologists, and regulatory agencies are all committed to the same goal—the safe and effective use of medical imaging.”

AAPM is taking questions and comments about their recommendation. They can be sent to CARES@aapm.org.