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X-ray Aprons

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X-Ray Aprons Category ImageRadiation Protection is our primary area of expertise. We carry radiation protection aprons from Shielding International, Techno-Aide, Bar-Ray and Protech Medical. We have every style to fit your needs and budget.

Contact KMI for free consulting if you have questions or special radiation protection requirements. 541-508-0540

Choosing the correct X-ray apron for your staff

 Choosing the correct x-ray apron is important when outfitting your staff. The standard frontal radiation protection apron has been around for decades and is found in nearly every medical imaging department on the planet. However, what if your staff needs to wear their apron for extended periods of time? Or need to remove their apron when in a sterile environment? Comfort, weight, level of protection needed, types of applications and personality are all factors that should be considered. We'll look at each of these factors so you can make an informed decision

Comfort has to do with the style of apron and the lead type chosen. Aprons have been designed with comfort in mind so you can now find aprons that are built as a Vest/Skirt, Flexback type that gives the tech back support, full wrap aprons that give ultimate protection, maternity styles and full back support type aprons for those who need it. For instance, Radiologic Technologists who primarily work in the emergency room setting will do well with standard frontal aprons with regular .5mm Pb eq lead.  Frontal aprons are generally easy on and easy off for quickly getting to your exam and removing the apron quickly when finished. A cathlab nurse or tech needs to wear their apron for an extended period of time if not the entire day. For these applications a vest/skirt using a non-lead core would be the right choice. For the doctor or nurse in surgery who need to remove their lead apron during surgery, a surgical drop-off or surgical drop-away type apron is what would be needed. Every manufacturer in the Kemper Medical catalog makes an x-ray apron that fill your specific needs.

The lead type chosen for the apron has a lot to do with comfort and level of protection. The standard level of protection is .5mm pb eq. Regular lead of this equivalency provides the best radiation protection, is the least expensive and the most durable. However, it is also the heaviest which will have a direct impact on comfort. All manufacturers also have a hybrid lead option such as TL Lite Ply from Shielding International, Lightweight Lead from Techno-Aide and True Lite from Bar-Ray. This lead is primarily lead with non-lead attenuating material embedded and/or mixed in with the core lead. Non-lead attenuating material is lighter weight. The trade off is that it is also more expensive to manufacture and the attenuation drops off as the kVp (strength of the x-ray) goes up. The drop off is generally around 4% to 6% but it depends on what the ratio of non-lead to lead is in the core material. On the plus side, the weight reduction can be from 15% to 23% also depending on the ratio of non-lead to lead. A full lead-free apron will be the lightest apron you can get. However, attenuation as a whole will be reduced slightly and are the most expensive to produce. This apron core material is excellent for cath labs where the staff must wear their aprons for an extended. With proper care, these aprons will last for many years and be very comfortable when used in the correct application.

The last factor in choosing the correct apron is personality. This has more to do with fabric choice than any other factor. Manufacturers have done a wonderful job of updating and upgrading their fabric choices so each individual can choose something that matches their personality. Everything from standard royal blue nylon to hot pink leopard to color changing hologram prints are available.

Radiation protection aprons have come a long way the past 15 years. With good feedback and imaginative manufacturers, they will continue to produce high quality and versatile x-ray aprons for you to choose from. 

What Type of Lead Should Be in My Radiation Protection Apron?  

            Picking the right lead for your radiation protection apron is really limited to three choices.  Regular lead, non-lead materials or a hybrid of the two.  There are a few things to consider when choosing what’s right for you or your department.  First is the most important, and that is attenuation properties.  Regular lead has the highest attenuation and on average has protection values of 96%(+/-) attenuation at 120kVp.  Regular lead is the most durable and least prone to cracks, pinholes or degradation. It is also the least expensive lead option among all manufacturers.  However, it is also the heaviest choice among the lead options. If you are wearing your radiation protection apron for long periods of time, regular lead is not the best first choice. Other considerations need to be deliberated though.  What kVp are you working with on a regular basis, how long do you need to wear it at any given time and do you or your department take care of your radiation protection aprons like the manufacturers say you should.  If you wear your lead for short periods, budget is a major concern and your staff tends to drape their apron over the back of a chair or it ends up piled high with other aprons, choose regular lead.  

            Hybrid lead is a combination of regular lead and non-lead attenuating materials.  The exact mix is generally a well kept secret among the manufacturers as they do not want other manufacturers plagiarizing their core lead abilities.  With that in mind, it’s difficult to compare apples to apples when looking at weight and attenuation properties of each manufacturers hybrid lead because their ratio of lead and non-lead materials is unknown.  In general, hybrid is approximately 15-20% lighter and attenuation that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.  A case in point, manufacturer “A” claims 95.4% attenuation at 120kVp for their hybrid lead aprons while manufacturer “B” claims 96% attenuation at 100kVp.  Hybrids have nearly identical warranties as regular lead aprons and take abuse quite well.  They are only slightly more expensive and have been by far the most popular choice of lead when clients order radiation protection aprons from us at Kemper Medical, Inc.   

            Non-lead is the clear choice for light weight radiation protection aprons.  This lead choice is excellent for Cath labs or any other situation where you are wearing your lead for long periods of time and your kVp used is generally below 100.  Attenuation does drop off with non-lead radiation protection aprons at high kVp.  However, if your exam situation only requires kVp’s below 90, non-lead aprons will attenuate the same or higher than regular lead at 120kVp.  There are a couple of caveats with non-lead.  It is more expensive adding 25% to 30% to the cost of an apron and they are more prone to cracks if the apron is not taken care of.  They won’t fall apart if you look at them wrong but they cannot take the abuse that regular lead or hybrid lead aprons will handle. They will last many years with proper care. 

            A bit general I know, however, if you would like more specific information or still are unsure what type of apron is for you, contact the professionals at Kemper Medical, Inc.  We have been techs and department managers.  We understand radiation protection aprons from every angle.