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Apron Testing

The goal of testing lead-lined personal protective devices is to assure that there are no areas of radiation leakage, holes, thin areas, gaps in shielding, or other deficiencies in the inspected device which would fail to decrease the radiation exposure.

  1. Visually examine the device (apron, thyroid shield, glove, etc.) for obvious signs of failure.  Obvious failures may include  visible tears in the internal shielding material.  The condition of the outer device covering is of interest and has implications for cleanliness and appearance purposes, but has no bearing on the adequacy of the shielding provided by the internal material.  The internal material is normally comprised one or more layers of vinyl or rubber impregnated with lead or other effective shielding compounds.  Layered sheets of protective material provide greater flexibility and comfort than can be provide by a single layer.  Any device with visible tears or other lapses in the shielding material, or is judged to be no longer clinically useful due to general appearance or condition is to be removed from service.
  1. Record a unique identification (number or name) on the protective device in an area which may easily found during subsequent inspections and located in a place where friction or perspiration will be less likely to obliterate the I.D..  If no I.D. is currently present on the device use a permanent marker to inscribe one so that the device can be individually identified.
  1. Since real time fluoroscopic imaging will be used to inspect the devices, personnel in the room must wear appropriate lead shielding devices with their personnel radiation monitoring devices placed at the level of the collar outside of the device.  The apron worn by the operator is to be the second device tested and, assuming that it passes evaluation, will be worn for the remainder of the procedure. If you do not have fluoroscopic imaging means to evaluate your protective devices, you can utilize radiographic methods by placing a radiographic image receptor(s) under the apron an taking an exposure, ensuring to exposure the entire protective device. One device may require several image receptors to visualize the entire device.
  1. Place each personal protective device to be tested flat on the fluoroscopy table and move the fluoroscopic tube and image receptor (or table) such that every part of the device can be examined.  If the device, such as an apron, must be repositioned on the table to facilitate the inspection, the operator is to terminate the fluoroscopic exposure prior to repositioning the apron/device.  A large apron or other large device may be carefully folded in half lengthwise to facilitated the inspection, provided that does not cause secondary folds which may obscure potential holes, tears, etc.
  1. In order for a personal protective device to pass this examination, the fluoroscopic image must demonstrate a uniformly gray image with no holes, gaps, or shielding omissions observed.  The outer covering material of many devices has been sewn on and the subsequent stitching holes are acceptable.
  1. An apron with a tear or hole in the protective material must be taken out of service and either disposed of through the facility’s hazardous material disposal process or returned to the manufacturer for repair. If there is any question concerning the Pass/Fail status of a protective device, remove it from service for testing by the Medical Physicist.
  1. New protective devices or those returned after repair should be tested and re-identified if necessary (see paragraph 2 above) prior to initial use.
  1. All personnel protective devices are to be tested at least annually.