Female gonadal shielding with automatic exposure control increases radiation risks
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Gonadal shielding remains common, but current estimates of gonadal radiation risk are lower than estimated risks to colon and stomach. A female gonadal shield may attenuate active automatic exposure control (AEC) sensors, resulting in increased dose to colon and stomach as well as to ovaries outside the shielded area.
We assess changes in dose–area product (DAP) and absorbed organ dose when female gonadal shielding is used with AEC for pelvis radiography.
Materials and methods
We imaged adult and 5-year-old equivalent dosimetry phantoms using pelvis radiograph technique with AEC in the presence and absence of a female gonadal shield. We recorded DAP and mAs and measured organ absorbed dose at six internal sites using film dosimetry.
Female gonadal shielding with AEC increased DAP 63% for the 5-year-old phantom and 147% for the adult phantom. Absorbed organ dose at unshielded locations of colon, stomach and ovaries increased 21–51% in the 5-year-old phantom and 17–100% in the adult phantom. Absorbed organ dose sampled under the shield decreased 67% in the 5-year-old phantom and 16% in the adult phantom.
Female gonadal shielding combined with AEC during pelvic radiography increases absorbed dose to organs with greater radiation sensitivity and to unshielded ovaries. Difficulty in proper use of gonadal shields has been well described, and use of female gonadal shielding may be inadvisable given the risks of increasing radiation.
KeywordsAutomatic exposure control Gonadal shield Gonads Ovaries Radiation dose Radiography Shielding
The authors acknowledge Eatrice Hinton, RT, and Colleen Flowers, RT, for technical assistance and manuscript review.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
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