Lead Apron Inspection Using Infrared Light: A Model Validation Study.
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<p><strong>PURPOSE: </strong>To evaluate defect detection in radiation protective apparel, typically called lead aprons, using infrared (IR) thermal imaging. The use of IR lighting eliminates the need for access to x-ray-emitting equipment and radiation dose to the inspector.</p>
<p><strong>MATERIALS AND METHODS: </strong>The performance of radiation workers was prospectively assessed using both a tactile inspection and the IR inspection with a lead apron phantom over a 2-month period. The phantom was a modified lead apron with a series of nine holes of increasing diameter ranging from 2 to 35 mm in accordance with typical rejection criteria. Using the tactile method, a radiation worker would feel for the defects in the lead apron. For the IR inspection, a 250-W IR light source was used to illuminate the lead apron phantom; an IR camera detected the transmitted radiation. The radiation workers evaluated two stills from the IR camera.</p>
<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>From the 31 participants inspecting the lead apron phantom with the tactile method, only 2 participants (6%) correctly discovered all 9 holes and 1 participant reported a defect that was not there; 10 of the 20 participants (50%) correctly identified all 9 holes using the IR method. Using a weighted average, 5.4 defects were detected with the tactile method and 7.5 defects were detected with the IR method.</p>
<p><strong>CONCLUSION: </strong>IR light can penetrate an apron's protective outer fabric and illuminate defects below the current standard rejection size criteria. The IR method improves defect detectability as compared with the tactile method.</p>
J Am Coll Radiol