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Do you really need to wear a lead apron to get an X-ray?

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Donning a shapeless lead apron may feel like a routine part of getting an X-ray. In theory, this heavy blanket is supposed to protect the body, particularly the reproductive organs, from radiation. But is it really necessary? 

Probably not, for two main reasons, experts told Live Science. First, the radiation dose from a typical X-ray is nominal and unlikely to cause harm. Second, because X-ray radiation exposure levels are low, whatever minor reduction the lead apron provides is minimal and has no meaningful impact. For these reasons, several medical organizations now recommend against radiation shielding for most patients, and hospitals are gradually phasing lead aprons out of their radiology departments. 

"The use of lead shielding for patients during their imaging procedure, particularly in relation to shielding of reproductive organs, does not appear to be effective for reducing the adverse effects of radiation," said Stephen Graves, an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. (The University of Iowa stopped using lead aprons in the summer of 2022.)


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I've had plenty of x-rays in my life and not once was there a lead apron used.

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