Does the lead apron and collar always reduce radiation dose?
The possibility that personal lead shielding devices can increase absorption of radiation has not been entertained. The purpose of the present investigation specifically was to determine whether pituitary dose might be increased when a leaded apron and thyroid collar are used. Thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) were used to measure absorbed dose. They were calibrated at the kVp used in the clinical situation and a calibration curve relating light output to dose was generated. Lithium fluoride TLD discs were placed in the pituitary gland region of a Rando-Alderson female human phantom. The equivalent of 100 transpharyngeal exposures were delivered. The resultant light output from recovered dosimeters was converted to a uGy value using the calibration curve. The experiment was repeated using a 0.25 mm lead equivalent collar and apron fitted to the phantom in the customary manner. The entire process was repeated in order to have 30 dosimeters for the unshielded and 30 dosimeters for the shielded conditions. A further 30 dosimeters were sham irradiated and served as controls. A statistical comparison between unshielded and shielded conditions was performed. When the leaded apron and thyroid collar were used the absorbed dose to the pituitary gland was increased significantly (P < 0.05). Following this a second group, using a different dosimetry system and a male phantom repeated the experiment. In both cases, the shielded phantom received significantly higher dose to the pituitary region than the unshielded.