What is Scatter Radiation?
Scatter radiation is defined as a type of secondary radiation that occurs when the beam intercepts an object, causing the beam of X-rays to be scattered in different directions. Scatter radiation usually occurs during diagnostic imaging procedures and can be generated from the following: CT imaging, fluoroscopy, X-ray, mammography, bone mineral densitometry and body composition analysis. During most imaging procedures, the patient’s body is the object that deflects the radiation and causes it to scatter around the room, potentially risking clinical healthcare workers and the patient to unnecessary radiation exposure.
Direct Beam and Scatter Radiation
Direct beam radiation also known as direct radiation occurs when an object comes into contact with a high energy radiation source. During a diagnostic imaging procedure, as the x-ray beam is passed through the patient’s body, a doctor or nurse may come in contact with the direct beam if they enter the direct path of the radiation beam. Appropriate radiation protection apparel is just one factor in keeping people safe from the dangers of direct beam radiation.
Scatter radiation is a type of secondary radiation which is characterized as low energy radiation. The scattering of the radiation beams occurs when a direct radiation beam interacts with body tissue, causing the ionising radiation to be scattered indirectly throughout the surrounding clinical operating environment.
In some cases, as with dental offices, the technologist is able to step out of the room during the examination, thus lessening the chance of an accidental exposure from scatter radiation. However, in operating theatres, for example, physicians, nurses and technologists who are near the patient must be protected using the appropriate ant-scatter radiation drapes.
Who is at Risk?
Radiation safety is a common concern for patients, physicians, and clinical healthcare workers in many departments, including interventional cardiology, radiology, and surgery. As the number of interventional procedures increases due to advancements in both technology and clinical efficacy, medical staff are subjected to potential exposure from these sources of radiation. This radiation exposure is dependent on the duration of time, distance from the radiation source, and the physical shielding being implemented.
Radiation exposure over a prolonged time period can produce biological effects that can potentially cause short and long-term health issues. It is important to note that these health effects can be reduced by implementing the appropriate protective measures.