Patient Preparation

Place the lead apron on the patient – The use of the lead apron on dental patients is regulated by state statute and may be mandatory.

Lead aprons are available in many designs including the “poncho” and “coat”, however regardless of the type, the apron should be raised at the front of the patient rather than the raised over the shoulder. In this manner the lead apron affords greatest protection to the sternum, thyroid and gonads.

Figure 40.
Correct placement of a lead apron on the patient.
Figure 41.
Correct storage of a lead apron.

Remove metallic objects – Before x-ray exposure it is necessary to remove all metallic objects in the head and neck region including eyeglasses, facial jewelry and especially necklaces, ear rings, tongue rings, prosthetic devices that may incorporate metals such as hearing aids and finally the patient’s napkin (“bib”) chain. These items are capable of producing artifacts on the image both directly and indirectly, such as “ghost” projection or secondary images all potentially interfering with diagnosis.

Although not required by law, many practices post signs adjacent to the panoramic unit as a reminder to both operators and patient’s for the need to remove such items prior to exposure.

Figure 42.
Figure 43.
Example of sign and patient compliance with instructions to remove metallic objects prior to exposure.