SU-F-I-71: Fetal Protection During Fluoroscopy: To Shield Or Not to Shield?




Lead aprons are routinely used to shield the fetus from radiation during fluoroscopically guided interventions (FGI) involving pregnant patients. When placed in the primary beam, lead aprons often reduce image quality and increase fluoroscopic radiation output, which can adversely affect fetal dose. The purpose of this work is to identify an effective and practical method to reduce fetal dose without affecting image quality.


A pregnant patient equivalent abdominal phantom is set on the table along with an image quality test object (CIRS model 903) representing patient anatomy of interest. An ion chamber is positioned at the x-ray beam entrance to the phantom, which is used to estimate the relative fetal dose. For three protective methods, image quality and fetal dose measurements are compared to baseline (no protection):1. Lead apron shielding the entire abdomen2. Lead apron shielding part of the abdomen, including the fetus 3. Narrow collimation such that fetus is excluded from the primary beam


With lead shielding the entire abdomen, the dose is reduced by 80% relative to baseline along with a drastic deterioration of image quality. With lead shielding only the fetus, the dose is reduced by 65% along with complete preservation of image quality, since the image quality test object is not shielded. However, narrow collimation results in 90% dose reduction and a slight improvement of image quality relative to baseline.


The use of narrow collimation to protect the fetus during FGI is a simple and highly effective method that simultaneously reduces fetal dose and maintains sufficient image quality. Lead aprons are not as effective at fetal dose reduction, and if placed improperly, they can severely degrade image quality. Future work aims to investigate a wider variety of fluoroscopy systems to confirm these results across many different system geometries.