ACVR Position Statement on Radiation Safety

Last Update: May 2015

The ACVR supports sustained and conscientious attention to safe practices regarding veterinary radiologic imaging and therapy as they relate to personnel, patient, and equipment. Exposure to radiation should always be As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) while maximizing the quality of the procedure.

The use of radiation to diagnose and treat animal diseases has significantly advanced the field of veterinary medicine, resulting in improved patient care. The equipment and techniques used to perform imaging and therapy procedures, whether they generate ionizing radiation (such as radiography, fluoroscopy, computed tomography, therapeutic radiation generators, and radioisotopes) or nonionizing radiation (such as ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging) are associated with potential risks to patients and personnel. Individuals with significantly less formal training than ACVR Diplomates in the safety, physics, and biology of ionizing radiation are routinely involved with these procedures. It is essential that these individuals be adequately trained in the appropriate function and use of the equipment and in the techniques of the procedure to minimize unnecessary radiation exposure to themselves, staff, patients, and the public.

Facilities employing ionizing radiation* as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool must have established policies and procedures in place and be familiar with current standards and techniques. This includes developing examination protocols for radiography, fluoroscopy, computed tomography, and radioisotope procedures that take into account patient body parameters (size, weight, composition) and maximize the distance and shielding of workers and the public. Equipment quality control must be included in these protocols.

Veterinary medical personnel who are directly involved with ionizing radiation procedures should wear dosimetry badges to monitor radiation exposure. Badge measurements should be evaluated regularly. If individual doses are reported to be high, measures should be taken to reduce further exposure to that individual (e.g., minimizing exposure time, maximizing distance, wearing appropriate shielding). A human body part within a primary x-ray beam is a failure in safety protocol and should be prevented through proper training and chemical restraint of the patient when necessary.

*Ionizing radiation refers to any electromagnetic or particulate radiation capable of producing ion pairs by interaction with matter. Common examples used in medicine include x-rays, electrons, gamma rays, beta particles, and other products of radioactive decay.

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