Exposure to ionizing radiation in the emergency department from commonly performed portable radiographs

Richard E. Grazer, Harvey W. Meislin, Bryan R. Westerman, Elizabeth A. Criss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


To accurately assess the potential hazard of exposure to ionizing radiation from portable radiographs taken in the emergency department, a study was performed to measure such radiation at different distances from the edge of an irradiated field during portable cervical-spine (pC-S), portable chest radiograph (pCXR), and portable anteroposterior-pelvis (pAP-pelvis) radiographs. For all three types of portable radiographs, radiation exposure is a function of distance from the beam. However, at 40 cm (15 inches) away from the beam during a pC-S or pCXR and at 160 cm (63 inches) from a pAP-pelvis film, exposure is minimal. At these distances one would need to be exposed to more than 1,200 such radiographs to equal background environmental ionizing radiation. Medical personnel should not have to leave a patient care area for fear of undue acute and chronic radiation exposure while portable radiographs are performed in the ED. By using protective garments and standing appropriate distances away from the patient, continuous patient care can be maintained while portable radiographs are taken in the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-420
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1987


  • radiation, exposure
  • radiographs, portable, exposure to radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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