Patient gonadal and fetal shielding during x-ray imaging is unnecessary and should be "discontinued" as routine practice, according to a new position statement from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).
“Use of these shields during x-ray based diagnostic imaging may obscure anatomic information or interfere with the automatic exposure control of the imaging system,” according to the AAPM statement. “These effects can compromise the diagnostic efficacy of the exam, or actually result in an increase in the patient’s radiation dose.”
If shielding can reduce a patient’s fear and anxiety about radiation exposure and produce a higher-quality exam, the healthcare provider may proceed with shielding, according to the statement. Radiation doses during diagnostic imaging are not associated with harm to the gonads or fetus.
Additionally, patient shielding can obscure anatomy and require repeated exams. It can also have a negative impact on image quality, according to the statement.
For years such shielding has remained consistent with the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle designed to minimize radiation doses, but current technology and evidence has found such practices to be ineffective.