An open letter to the x-ray imaging community from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)

August 19, 2019
An open letter to the x-ray imaging community from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)

Since April of 2019, there has been considerable discussion about the use of patient gonadal and fetal shielding in diagnostic x-ray imaging, prompted primarily by the publication of a position statement on this topic by the AAPM. The AAPM position statement reflects the growing consensus among medical physicists that the routine use of patient gonadal and fetal shielding, once a mainstay of patient radiation protection, may no longer be best practice for protecting our patients. Since its release, the AAPM statement has been endorsed by the American College of Radiology, the Canadian Organization of Medical Physics, and the Health Physics Society.

The AAPM statement was intended to be the beginning of a much larger conversation, one that includes many other stakeholder organizations and individuals. Its purpose is to educate the imaging community that these shields provide no tangible benefit to patients, slow down workflow, and in a small number of cases, compromise an exam by blocking important patient anatomy or increase patient dose when detected by an automatic exposure control system.

While science can lay the groundwork, facilitating a data-driven discussion, any meaningful dialogue about potential changes to clinical practice must include all members of the medical imaging community. Radiologic technologists, medical physicists, health physicists, radiologists, and regulatory agencies are all committed to the same goal – the safe and effective use of medical imaging. Each member of the imaging community brings a unique and valuable perspective to this discussion, all of which must be considered as potential changes to clinical practice are contemplated.

To help facilitate these discussions, [Continue to full letter]

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