We talk a lot about the things that we’re doing at SPO, but now we’re going to talk about something we’re not doing: We’re not having you wear a pelvic shield when you get an x-ray.

There’s a good reason for this change, and like virtually everything we do, it’s rooted in the latest science.

When shields were introduced, more than 70 years ago, the amount of radiation used was much higher and the equipment was much different than it is today. Medical facilities have been gradually moving away from having patients wear pelvic shields while being x-rayed because current research concludes that the shields aren’t as effective as believed.

The amount of radiation used to take an x-ray has declined significantly over the years. In fact, according to the Yale Medical School, “today’s machines emit just 10% of the radiation than older technology did.”

A pelvic shield can actually lead to more radiation if the shield moves into the area being examined, causing a repeat image. Similarly, if the shield moves and blocks the x-ray beam, a signal will be sent to the machine that it needs to apply more radiation to penetrate the barrier.

If the body part being imaged is not close to the pelvis, a shield still has no value as the amount of radiation reaching the pelvis/reproductive organs is zero or near zero. 

These findings were analyzed by radiologists and medical physicists at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and National Counsel on Radiation Protection and Measurement, who concluded that the low-dose radiation used during routine x-ray exams doesn’t harm patients’ reproductive organs. The amount of radiation required to cause infertility is more than 100 times the dose of an imaging exam, according to the AAPM. 

Their conclusions have led national medical societies like the American College of Radiology to recommend that radiologic technologists at hospitals and clinics stop using pelvic shields on patients of all ages, including pregnant women.

Stevens Point Orthopedics is dedicated to patients’ best interests, and that extends to the appropriate use of x-rays. We’ll continue to monitor the research and recommendations, and let you know of any changes in our procedures.

We are here for our patients and if adjusting to these new guidelines is difficult, we will continue to shield you upon your request, as long as it does not compromise the exam.

If you have questions, ask. We’re happy to discuss our use of x-rays as a diagnostic tool.