For any technologist, nurse or physician who deals on a day-to-day basis with radiology equipment, radiation protection is a matter of personal as well as workplace safety. The thyroid shield is just one of several protective devices used when X-rays are used, for example, including a lead apron, lead glasses, table drapes and patient shield. Why should workers be concerned about exposing their thyroid gland to radiation? This butterfly-shaped gland, located at the base of the neck, produces hormones which regulate the body’s metabolism, growth and levels of energy. Without throat protection, healthcare workers whose thyroid is exposed on a continuing basis to radiation risk losing thyroid function over a period of time. Failure to consistently wear a shield can result in hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, memory and hair loss, depression, weight gain and irritability. In rare instances, working around radiation without a thyroid shield can ultimately result in thyroid cancer. Any healthcare worker seeking radiation protection wear should look for a shield which is lightweight and comfortable to wear. Any sort of radiation protection that is worn should not limit or restrict the movement of the doctor, nurse or technologist in the pursuit of his or her duties. Shields generally feature a hook and loop closures to enable the shield to be quickly and effortlessly taken on and off as necessary, providing a tight and secure fit. Shields with a buckle closure are also available for those that prefer them.
Also called protective collars, some shields offering radiation protection to the thyroid can be tethered to the healthcare worker’s lead apron with a double ring closure so that every time the apron is worn the shield will not be forgotten or misplaced. Shields are available using both leaded and non-leaded protective materials. Thyroid shields or collars come in one-size-fits-all, but oversized models are available to accommodate larger neck sizes. Read the rest of this entry »