The relationship between back pain and lead apron use in radiologists

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1992 Jan;158(1):191-3. doi: 10.2214/ajr.158.1.1530763.


Anecdotal experience has suggested that back pain in radiologists may result from extensive wearing of lead aprons. To investigate this possibility, we sent questionnaires to 688 radiologists in various subspecialties whose use of lead aprons varied from none to moderate to extensive. The questionnaire included both objective items that quantitated apron use and back pain and subjective items that asked, for example, if the respondent believed that lead aprons were responsible for his or her back pain. We received 236 responses (34% response rate). Objective data from those radiologists who had experienced no back pain before wearing a lead apron (179 radiologists, 26% of those surveyed) were tabulated; respondents were grouped according to age, time spent wearing a lead apron, and degree of back pain. Odds ratios were calculated. Answers to subjective questions for all respondents were tabulated. Back pain was reported by 52% of those who estimated their lead apron use at greater than or equal to 10 hr per week, the mean response, as opposed to 46% of those who wore lead aprons fewer than 10 hr a week. These and related results were not statistically significant. Our study does not prove that wearing a lead apron is a significant risk factor for the development of back pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / etiology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Lead
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Protective Clothing / standards*
  • Radiation Protection*
  • Radiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States


  • Lead