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Simon, Steven L.*

Health Physics:
doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e318204a60a

While radiation absorbed dose (Gy) to the skin or other organs is sometimes estimated for patients from diagnostic radiologic examinations or therapeutic procedures, rarely is occupationally-received radiation absorbed dose to individual organs/tissues estimated for medical personnel; e.g., radiologic technologists or radiologists. Generally, for medical personnel, equivalent or effective radiation doses are estimated for compliance purposes. In the very few cases when organ doses to medical personnel are reconstructed, the data is usually for the purpose of epidemiologic studies; e.g., a study of historical doses and risks to a cohort of about 110,000 radiologic technologists presently underway at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. While ICRP and ICRU have published organ-specific external dose conversion coefficients (DCCs) (i.e., absorbed dose to organs and tissues per unit air kerma and dose equivalent per unit air kerma), those factors have been published primarily for mono-energetic photons at selected energies. This presents two related problems for historical dose reconstruction, both of which are addressed here. It is necessary to derive conversion factor values for (1) continuous distributions of energy typical of diagnostic medical x-rays (bremsstrahlung radiation), and (2) energies of particular radioisotopes used in medical procedures, neither of which are presented in published tables. For derivation of DCCs for bremsstrahlung radiation, combinations of x-ray tube potentials and filtrations were derived for different time periods based on a review of relevant literature. Three peak tube potentials (70 kV, 80 kV, and 90 kV) with four different amounts of beam filtration were determined to be applicable for historic dose reconstruction. The probabilities of these machine settings were assigned to each of the four time periods (earlier than 1949, 1949–1954, 1955–1968, and after 1968). Continuous functions were fit to each set of discrete values of the ICRP/ICRU mono-energetic DCCs and the functions integrated over the air-kerma weighted photon fluence of the 12 defined x-ray spectra. The air kerma-weighted DCCs in this work were developed specifically for an irradiation geometry of anterior to posterior (AP) and for the following tissues: thyroid, breast, ovary, lens of eye, lung, colon, testes, heart, skin (anterior side only), red bone marrow (RBM), and brain. In addition, a series of functional relationships to predict DT Ka−1 values for RBM dependent on body mass index [BMI (kg m−2) [triple bond] weight per height2] and average photon energy were derived from a published analysis. Factors to account for attenuation of radiation by protective lead aprons were also developed. Because lead protective aprons often worn by radiology personnel not only reduce the intensity of x-ray exposure but also appreciably harden the transmitted fluence of bremsstrahlung x-rays, DCCs were separately calculated for organs possibly protected by lead aprons by considering three cases: no apron, 0.25 mm Pb apron, and 0.5 mm Pb apron. For estimation of organ doses from conducting procedures with radioisotopes, continuous functions of the reported mono-energetic values were developed, and DCCs were derived by estimation of the function at relevant energies. By considering the temporal changes in primary exposure-related parameters (e.g., energy distribution), the derived DCCs and transmission factors presented here allow for more realistic historical dose reconstructions for medical personnel when monitoring badge readings are the primary data on which estimation of an individual's organ doses are based.

Author Information

* Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

For correspondence contact the author at the above address, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 1 November 2010)

©2011Health Physics Society