Protective vests for taking x-rays -- do they really help or make things worse?

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Buckaroo Banzai, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. Buckaroo Banzai Mentat Registered Senior Member

    Say one's going to take an x-ray of the head or foot.

    Is it the common practice that the patient would wear some protective vest or barrier, leaving out only the part that needs to be photographed by x-rays?

    I was wondering if there wouldn't be some "optical"/wave effect leading to a sharper concentration at the edges of the vest/barrier, sort of a "funnel"* to some degree, which in turn would perhaps be worse than the same total radiation spread all over the body, or wherever it reaches nearby.

    Is there really such "optical" effect, when light/radiation go through a hole?

    * probably that's not the best analogy for the effect, if it really exists. I don't mean that all the x-rays somehow manage to get into the "funnel"/hole, but that perhaps they'd "concentrate" somewhat more at the edges, perhaps depending on the size of that barrier.
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    The vests or aprons are made of lead and don't have any holes in them so if you see one with holes ask for another that doesn't have any.
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  5. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    No. There are 3 options. The xrays go through the hole. The xrays pass through the lead and are not attenuated. The xrays are attenuated by the lead. The xrays will not be concentrated or funneled through the hole. Xrays will not be reflected like light, because of the energy levels any xray that is attenuated will cause the the complete ionization of the electron and not a reradiation of the photon (xray).
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  7. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

  8. QuarkHead Remedial Math Student Valued Senior Member

    As an (possibly) irrelevant aside, it well known that high energy radiation cannot be focused in the same way that, say, you can start a fire using a glass lens and sunlight.

    So if you have the misfortune to need radiotherapy for a tumour, your radiologist will target high-energy radiation from 3 sources, each of which is not lethal to surrounding tissue, but when "combined" are lethal to the target.

    So, given the superposition properties of radiation (as waves), how do they ensure that these waves interfere constructively rather that destructively?

    Stupid question, probably....
  9. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    My immediate response was that coordinating destructive interference is difficult. Set all three sources mutually perpendicular and I wouldn't imagine a problem...
  10. Layman Totally Internally Reflected Valued Senior Member

    Most likely, no one would observe the x-rays go through a hole in the vest, so it would end up being like the two slit experiment. Lines of rays with more energy than the original waves could then make a pattern of lines that would have more intensity than they normally would have. Even just a reflective surface could increase the damage of the x-rays. It would increase the probability that x-rays would be found at certain locations. On the other hand, it could lower the probability of finding x-rays at other locations as well. Then it would just depend mostly on how lucky your feeling. The safe bet would be to not have holes or reflective surfaces. Then you would always just get a standard amount of radiation poisoning.

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