Eye protectors incorrectly positioned in almost 25% of head CT scans

German researchers found approximately 95 percent of head CT scans of patients wearing eye protectors during an exam showed image artifacts, according to research published online Jan. 15 in the American Journal of Roentgenology. In almost a quarter of cases the eye lens was improperly positioned.

Protecting a patient's eyes during imaging exams with radiation exposure is necessary to help avoid cataracts. However, eye lens protectors create image artifacts on the exam that distort or block tissue depiction in areas beyond the eye, wrote researchers led by Stephan A. Schmidt, MD, a radiologist at the University Hospital of Ulm in Germany, and colleagues. 

Schmidt and colleagues assessed the diagnostic quality of datasets from 261 head CT exams obtained over a period of three and a half months. Additionally, the researchers analyzed the position of the lens protectors in correlation to the eye lens as well as the intensity and frequency of artifacts found on the head CT scans.  

Only 4.6 percent of the scans were free of artifacts and 95.4 percent showed artifacts at least in the orbital cavity, according to the researchers.

In almost a quarter of the cases, the patient’s eye lens was not property covered by the eye protector. Positioning the protector in a way that was too focused on the skull was identified as the main risk factor for cerebral artifacts. 

“The eye lens is an important organ and has to be protected as much as possible. Our study shows that the protectors have to be improved. Correct positioning of the protector can reduce artifacts, and this is even more important for younger patients,” the researchers concluded.