, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 704-707
Date: 08 Dec 2009

Scatter radiation from chest radiographs: is there a risk to infants in a typical NICU?

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To evaluate the dose of scatter radiation to infants in a NICU in order to determine the minimal safe distance between isolettes.

Materials and methods

Dose secondary to scattered radiation from an acrylic phantom exposed to vertical and horizontal beam exposures at 56 kVp was measured at 93 cm and 125 cm from the center of the phantom. This corresponds to 2 and 3 ft between standard isolettes, respectively. For horizontal exposures, the dosimeter was placed directly behind a CR plate and scatter dose at 90-degrees and 135-degrees from the incident beam was also measured. Exposures were obtained at 160 mAs and the results were extrapolated to correspond to 2.5 mAs. Four measurements were taken at each point and averaged.


At 125 cm and 93 cm there was minimal scatter compared to daily natural background radiation dose (8.493 μGy). Greatest scatter dose obtained from a horizontal beam exposure at 135° from the incident beam was still far below background radiation.


Scatter radiation dose from a single exposure as well as cumulative scatter dose from numerous exposures is significantly below natural background radiation. Infants in neighboring isolettes are not at added risk from radiation scatter as long as the isolettes are separated by at least 2 ft.