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Radiation protection in the Veterinary Practice

In the veterinary practice X-ray techniques are often used for diagnostics. Most practices feature one or more X-ray machines. Although X-rays offer a lot of benefits for making a diagnosis, there are some disadvantages. Most veterinarians and their assistants know about the risks of radiation, but experience shows that not every veterinary practice complies with the Dutch Nuclear Power Act (Kernenergiewet) or the Radiation Protection Decree (Besluit Stralingsbescherming). These governmental regulations the rules for working with radiation are established.
Many veterinarians have taken measures with regard to working with radiation, however this might not suffice. At an inspection there are several issues that come to the attention. These issues can usually be found in a clear and accessible KEW (Nuclear Power Act) file. In this file, the following elements need to be present:
  • Notification of permit application for the X-ray machine(s).
  • A diploma in radiation expertise and activities in the practice dealing with radiation.
  • A written procedure for the entrepreneur and the employees which is red by all involved parties.
  • Overview of the periodical maintenance of the X-ray machine.
  • A record of the potential personal dose meters.
  • An analysis of the radiation risks for the members of the community and employees.
  • Documentation regarding overall radiation protection. This may include extra shielding, warning signs and personal protective equipment.
The KEW file will be established once, and needs to be updated frequently. Not only to comply with the rules and regulations, but it is vital for the safety of you and your employees. Periodical maintenance should happen annually for your practice.
To keep the radiation dose as low as possible for you and your employees, three basic principles apply:
  1. The exposure time must be as short as possible
  2. There must be shielding between you and the radiation source
  3. The distance between you and the radiation source must be as big as possible.
When, for example, during an X-ray the vet or the assistant needs to hold the animal, the distance can't be that big. This must be taken into account when making the radiation risk analysis.

A sound calculation of the dose for the radiation risk analysis is essential to get a clear idea of the risks involved. The risks and potential consequences of dysfunctional equipment are, because of the small distance to the radiation source, larger. Enough reasons to ensure your and your employees’ safety by making sure the correct measurements and calculations are carried out!

Applus RTD has developed two services for the veterinary industry, which allow you to make a good head start with your company and ensure continuity for your safety:
  • Preparing a KEW-file including Radiation risk analysis. A scatter radiation test will be carried out for your equipment and the measurement results will be used to make a risk analysis for both members of the community and your employees in the practice.
  • Performing quality control measurements. Your X-ray machine will be checked for various parameters. Also, the X-ray machine will be inspected visually.
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