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Safety Procedures Followed When Using Alpha, Beta And Gamma Radiation And X- Rays Add in library

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Explain the safety procedures followed when using alpha, beta and gamma radiation and X- rays.



The safety procedures that can be considered when using X-rays, gamma, beta, and alpha radiation include

Reduction of the exposure time: The external hazards of radiation can be minimized through the reduction of radionuclide handling, proper planning, and dry runs (Remenec, Dulanská and Mátel 2014).

Increasing the distance: The distance between the radiation source and the operator or the patient can be reduced by using tools that have long handles in cases where there is intense radiation penetration. In addition, clamps and stands should be used for holding the radioactive radiations.

Shielding: The rate of exposure to radiations can be reduced by shielding the source of the radiation. This can be achieved by scattering the radiation and keeping away from the edges of the shield. Additionally, for gamma emitters can be shielded using lead of appropriate thickness.  

Barium meal is a type of test conducted using a tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach to show the oesophagus. The organs that can be examined using barium meal include

  • The duodenum
  • The stomach
  • The oesophagus

In the case of the stomach, oesophagus, and duodenum, the barium meal is used because these organs have soft tissue structures that cannot be captured by using the ordinary X-ray. The barium meal is used for coating the inner lining of the three organs so that the radiologist has a clear view of them to monitor their functionality. 

In the case of the stomach, the radiologist gives the patient the barium meal mixed with water. The radiologist then takes the images of the stomach using the X-ray while the patient is lying down or standing. The X-rays images generated are projected on the TV monitor by the radiologist. Additionally, the patient is given any drug that produces effervescence to ensure that the stomach lining is clearly seen. The diagram below shows the image of the stomach using barium meal.

The X Rays

Gamma rays can be used for imaging using a gamma camera technique that is capable of conducting a functional scan of the skeleton, kidneys, gallbladder, liver, lungs, thyroid, and brain (, 2016). The gamma camera is capable of imaging the radiation by introducing a tracer such as technetium-99 into the body of the patient. The tracer has prolonged the half-life of 6 hours and is capable of mixing with several molecules with the aim of targeting the various body systems. As the tracer traverses the body, it emits radiation, and its movement is traced using a crystal capable of scintillating as it responds to the gamma rays.

The radiation oncologist uses brachytherapy to treat and manage cancerous growths using ionizing radiation energy that can shrink or kill any cancerous tumour or malignant growth. The internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy, enables the radiation oncologist to employ radiation at a high total dose to kill the tumour or growth within a smaller area and within a shorter time as opposed to the external beam radiation therapy. The advantage of the internal radiation therapy is that it can be used to treat any cancerous growth throughout the body such as the skin, cervix, prostate, and breast among others.  

There are two methods of conducting the internal radiation therapy. The first method is called temporary brachytherapy whereby, a significantly radioactive material such as palladium, phosphorous, iodine, iridium, cesium, and radium is placed a slender tube or catheter in an area with cancerous growth within a specified period. The radioactive materials are dispensed at a high-dose rate (HDR) or low-dose-rate (LDR) (Rajekar, Bogammana and Stubbs 2011). The second method is called seed implantation or permanent brachytherapy. Under this method, radioactive pellets or seeds are permanently placed in or within the proximity to the cancerous growth. After some time, the level of radioactivity of the pellets or seeds diminishes and eventually stops. The seeds eventually become inactive and do not cause any harm to the body where they are. The only challenge is that the metal detectors at the security checkpoints can detect the pellets or seeds.


Generation of technetium-99

Technetium-99 can be generated in a technetium generator by the disintegration of molybdenum-99 since it has a high affinity for alumina (aluminium oxide) as opposed to technetium does not. The figure below shows a technetium generator.

Generation of Technetium

The alumina/molybdenum capsule are injected with a saline solution through an elution process. Any technetium-99m produced is then drawn out. The capsule is put in the middle of the generator surrounded by a shielding material. The figure below shows the radioactivity of molybdenum-99 to form technetium-99.

  1. Uses of Technetium-99
  • The metastable isotope is used for the diagnosis of organs such as lungs, heart, kidney, and bones by scanning.
  • It is also used in gamma imaging due to its emission of gamma rays that can easily be observed by the gamma camera
  • It can be used in various tracer experiments and investigation involving organs such as brains, kidneys, among others.

The iodine -131 is a radioactive material that can be used to treat thyroid cancerous growth as an unsealed radiation source (Green 2012, p. 63). In order to minimize the exposure of the radiation, the patients must be admitted for a period of 3 to 7 days in the hospital. The iodine-131 is used as an internal radiation therapy. Both the healthcare givers and the patient’s visitors are normally advised to minimize the amount of time spent with the patient since he/she is radioactive until the completion of the treatment process. Additionally, extra care must be observed during the disposal of the waste products of the patient since they are very radioactive. After a given period, the radiation level rapidly reduces until a specified time when the effects of the radiation are considered minimal.   

Ultrasound is any high-frequency vibration or sound wave used in the medical test for scanning and capturing internal body images live such as the lungs, kidney, and uterus. The method is non-invasive, convenient, fast, inexpensive, and less harmful.

In ophthalmology, A-scan ultrasound is used for measuring the length from the retina to the cornea.  B-scan ultrasound is used for providing the 2D cross-sectional images of the inner parts of the eye. A scan implies amplitude scan while B-scan implies brightness scan. More energy is needed for producing the desired brightness of the image. Similarly, a longer amplitude results to a brighter image while shorter amplitude generates black images. The figure below shows A scan and B scan.

A Scan ultrasound

Kidney stones are examined using ultrasound by sending the non-invasive waves to the kidney to generate an image of the kidney that shows its blood flow, location, shape, and size. A transducer is used to send the waves at extremely high frequencies by placing it on the skin. The wave penetrates the skin but bounces back upon meeting the intended organ and registered as images on the computer.

Sonogram or foetal ultrasound is a technique used to generate images of the foetus in the uterus using high-frequency sound waves (Quintela et al. 2012, p. 924). The procedure can estimate the date of pregnancy in the third trimester that can be used to estimate the delivery date. It does this by generating anatomic details of the foetus such as the length of the foetus. Through these details, the birth defects, foetal position, normality in growth can be determined.

The Doppler ultrasound is also known as the duplex study that is aimed at showing the direction and speed of the blood flow in the chest. The major difference between the standard ultrasound and the Doppler sound is that in the case of standard ultrasound, the frequency of the wave is high so that no sound is produced as opposed to the Doppler ultrasound where the examination is audible.  



Green, C., 2012. Technetium-99m production issues in the United Kingdom. J Med Phys, 37(2), p.66., 2016. Gamma cameras. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].

Quintela, L., Barrio, M., Peña, A., Becerra, J., Cainzos, J., Herradón, P. and Díaz, C., 2012. Use of Ultrasound in the Reproductive Management of Dairy Cattle. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 47, pp.34-44.

Rajekar, H., Bogammana, K. and Stubbs, R., 2011. Selective Internal Radiation Therapy for Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumour Liver Metastases: A New and Effective Modality for Treatment. International Journal of Hepatology, 2011, pp.1-7.

Remenec, B., Dulanská, S. and Mátel, Ľ., 2014. Determination of alpha, beta, X-ray and gamma emitting radionuclides in reactor components and fuel assemblies from NPP V1 Jaslovske Bohunice. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 299(3), pp.1799-1804. 

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