Select the best materials to shield patients and staff from radiation exposure
X-ray exams provide diagnostic value to practitioners that improve patient outcomes dramatically. However, the harmful effects of radiation exposure to the human body cannot be overemphasized. It is important to be familiar with the magnitude of radiation exposure and the measures that can be taken to safeguard staff and patients, including wall shielding, room shielding (such as mobile barriers and curtains) and wearable protection.
Site planning is an essential step in the purchase and installation of medical imaging equipment. Radiation shielding requirements can vary depending on the location, setting type, medical imaging equipment being used, frequency of use and layout of the rooms within the building. During new construction of a medical imaging room, a variety of materials are used for radiation protection, including lead-lined gypsum board, lead-lined plywood (for thicker shielding), leaded-glass windows as well as use of room layouts which strategically place key room components that provide additional shielding value.
However, in an office remodel using medical imaging equipment, different solutions must be used to provide equivalent radiation protection. Curtains and barriers are effective methods of retrofitting spaces where radiation shielding is required, or when new construction or renovation is not an option. These solutions offer cost-efficient, fast and effective methods for protecting staff, patients, customers and anyone at-risk of being exposed to radiation from nearby X-ray devices.
X-ray Curtains Provide Flexibility in Room Design
Many components of room design can make retrofit solutions more feasible than large-scale remodeling or new construction. Below are just a few of the considerations that practices may be faced with when adding medical imaging equipment.
- Rooms containing many windows could be cost prohibitive to replace with leaded glass.
- There is a need to divide a larger room into smaller functional spaces without permanent construction of walls, ventilation and electrical needs.
- Installation of lead lined walls is prohibited by the building owner, or is cost prohibitive as it would be required to be removed at lease termination.
- The facility is designed to be used temporarily.
- Installation of lead-lined walls is not possible or is cost prohibitive due to permanent fixtures or infrastructure.
Benefits of Using Lead-Lined Curtains Over Installing Lead-Lined Walls for Radiation Protection
Lead-lined curtains are a flexible alternative to radiation shielding in medical practices. These curtain shields allow for the use of existing spaces, which can be retrofitted for specific use, or temporary spaces to be quickly created for patient care.
The use of lead-lined curtains provides many benefits, including:
- Lead-lined curtains are simple to install and remove. Ceiling tracks can be fixed to existing ceiling structure or studs. Brackets and supports are available for any ceiling type.
- Curtain tracks are available in almost any configuration: Continuous “S”, “U”, or 360 degree configurations.
- Lead-lined curtains can meet any level of protection required, from 0.25mmPb to 3.0mmPb. Standard design equivalents for 1/32” and 1/16” Pb specifications are also available.
- Curtains can be drawn back when not in use, opening up a large room or uncovering windows.
- X-ray curtains are also available in lead-free material at minimal additional cost.
Local building codes and radiation safety regulations vary from one location to another. Always consult with a health physicist certified in local regulations to ensure that radiation protection standards are satisfied.
USE CASE: Atlanta, Georgia Medical Practice adds a Computed Tomography Imaging System
A medical practice in Atlanta, Georgia purchased a new CT imaging system They intend to install the CT system in a corner of the practice based on available space and to minimize shielding needs. The practice is located within a commercial office building with occupied floors above and below the office. The floors and ceilings in the CT room are constructed of concrete. The room has two exterior walls, with block construction to 24” and windows to the ceiling. There is an adjacent room used for patient care and an adjacent hallway.
The practice has less than two years left on the current lease, and may relocate to a larger facility when the current lease is complete. They would like to minimize construction expenses for this facility, as well as minimize the inconvenience during any construction process. As the new CT equipment is due to be delivered in twelve weeks, they also were concerned about the time factor as the equipment needed to be operational as soon as possible.
The client took every precaution to ensure the safety of anyone around the equipment. A Certified Radiation Physicist evaluated the room design to suggest shielding in line with state regulations. The evaluation included considering the expected workload of 150 patients per week, with 20% head and 80% body imaging cases.
In the room described, the Physicist made the following recommendations:
- Both Interior walls required an additional 1.0 mm Pb in addition to the existing gypsum board construction. Lead should extend to a height of seven feet. The walls of the imaging booth should also have a minimum 1.0 mm Pb.
- If the CT Gantry is located within six feet of the wall, the shielding would instead need to be increased to 1.2 mm Pb.
- Exterior windows required an additional 1.0mm Pb shielding. As the installation of lead glass was not an option due to both cost and exterior construction issues, the shielding can be accomplished using lead-lined drape with a height of seven feet.
- The operator station viewing window requires leaded glass with a thickness of 5/16” which has a 2 mm Pb equivalent.
- The entry door requires additional 1.0 mm Pb shielding.
Layout of the new CT room with radiation shielding indicated for maximum protection to patients and staff.
Radiation Protection Solution
The practice chose to install lead-lined curtains to cover the exterior windows. A total of 44 feet of curtains were used to cover the two exterior walls. The curtain tracks were installed at ceiling height and chains ran from the wheeled carriers to the seven feet high curtains.
New lead lined drywall was added to the interior walls. Lining of 3/64” was selected to meet the higher 1.2 mm Pb shielding requirement.
A new door and door frame were added with 3/64” lead lining as well. The operators station was built out with lead lined drywall and a 2.0 mm Pb lead glass window and frame.
X-Ray Curtains like these can be hung from the ceiling in any configuration and length to properly shield windows, doors and openings for protection from radiation exposure during medical imaging.
Total Cost of Shielding
|Installation Cost||Material Cost|
|Lead-Lined Curtains (1.0 mm Pb) 7 ft x 44 ft with Ceiling Tracks and Hardware||$1,800||$29,040|
|15 Sheets 5/8” Drywall (10 feet) with 3/64” Lead-Lining to seven feet with batten strips, lead sheet and misc lead materials||$5,600||$19,800|
|24” x 36” Leaded Glass Window with Frame||$2,560|
|Buildout of Operators Station with Window||$5,500|
|Lead Lined Door & Frame||$2,530||$1,800|
|TOTAL COST OF SHIELDING & MATERIALS||$68,630|
***Does not include freight or finishing (paint, etc)
Lead-Lined Curtain Features
If additional curtain and track length is needed, additional track and curtain can be purchased, allowing for easy room redesign and adaptable spaces for fast-moving medical practices.
In-Stock and Custom Products Ship Quickly
These lead-lined curtains easy-to-install and highly configurable. Both tracks and curtain assemblies are designed to meet the compressed timelines of even the most urgent projects. Many products are stocked and ship within two days. This solution included custom track design with a corner radius and 44 linear feet of lead-lined curtains. The complete assembly was manufactured and shipped within two weeks of order.
Proper radiation protection is essential for the safety of staff and patients. Lead-lined curtains from X-RayCurtains.com are an affordable, adaptable and fast solution to radiation shielding in a medical practice. Click here for pricing, colors, sizes and more technical specifications.
For answers to compliance questions for your facility, reach out to us at (832) 519-8787 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org