Special report: The changing world of radiation shielding

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | September 20, 2013
From the September 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“The problem is in a PET facility, you have multiple scan rooms, with patients who are radioactive moving back and forth between them,” says Jones. “That’s a very complicated shielding problem, as compared to one CT room or one radiation room.”

Jones’ paper describes an algorithm facilities can potentially use that incorporates 3D numerical methods to optimize PET shielding, rather than making approximations, which is how shielding needs are traditionally determined.

The algorithm isn’t being used at facilities yet, but Jones predicts that it will come in handy as suites become increasingly complicated.

He says that while lead is relatively cheap, PET facilities require more shielding, so reducing the shielding would be beneficial.

Cutting back on shielding is also critical if a PET room is on an upper floor of a facility, since the additional weight of the room and the building’s ability to support it needs to be considered.

But even as shielding teams solve current challenges, more are certain to appear as technology changes. For example, Jones mentions the proliferation of flat panel CT being used in fluoroscopy labs. He said he hasn’t seen any studies on the impact of that trend yet but expects to see an approach to it to appear in the future.

“Since imaging outside of radiology continues to grow, there’s going to be more and more discussion on the listservs and elsewhere on how to shield those rooms,” Jones says.

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