X ray overdose

Operators of X-ray machines and patients in India may be vulnerable to unnecessary radiation overexposure. This was revealed by A Gopalakrishnan, chairperson of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), at the 47th Congress of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association in Kochi recently. According to an AERB study of 750 X-ray units, 33 per cent had improper tube-screen alignment, 25 per cent had insufficient beam limiting and 20 per cent did not use lead rubber aprons -- all of which could lead to radiation overexposure.

India has about 50,000 X-ray machines and more than 2.2 lakh exposures are taken every day. Patients are constantly exposed to higher-than-necessary doses to compensate for various technical shortcomings. Gopalakrishnan felt that technicians who process films wrongly and under non-optimum conditions are largely to blame for non-prescribed exposure.

In a study of radiation exposure in 175 hospitals, 25 were found to be operating without optimum film development parameters. The study also revealed that about one-third of the patients were exposed to almost double the required dose of radiation and almost two-thirds were exposed to a dose 50 per cent in excess.

Improper maintenance and a lack of professional attitude has contributed to the state of affairs, Gopalakrishnan added. According to him, AERB regulations alone cannot prevent such improper practices and professional radiologists themselves have to take corrective measures.