The breast: in-plane x-ray protection during diagnostic thoracic CT--shielding with bismuth radioprotective garments

Radiology. 1997 Dec;205(3):853-8. doi: 10.1148/radiology.205.3.9393547.


Purpose: To evaluate the ability of thin overlying bismuth radioprotective shielding to reduce the x-ray dose to radiosensitive superficial organs during diagnostic computed tomography (CT).

Materials and methods: A variety of patient and phantom studies were performed with four thicknesses of bismuth radioprotective latex over the breast. Dose savings were determined with thermoluminescent dosimeters. A prototype and then a final manufactured radioprotective brassiere was constructed and tested for radiation dose savings to the breast during diagnostic chest CT. Preliminary studies were also performed to evaluate shielding of the thyroid, orbit, and testes.

Results: The use of bismuth radioprotective latex saved an average 57% of the radiation dose to the breast from thoracic CT, decreasing the radiation level from an average 2.2 rad (0.022 Gy) to 1.0 rad (0.010 Gy) (P < .001). Preliminary tests of shielding other superficial radiosensitive organs frequently included at diagnostic CT (eyes, thyroid gland, and testes) were performed with the same thickness of overlying bismuth radioprotective latex, with similar results. Radiation to the thyroid gland was reduced by 60% (from 0.0573 to 0.0229 Gy) and radiation to the eye and testes was reduced by 40% (from 0.0256 to 0.0154 Gy) and 51% (from 0.0463 to 0.0229 Gy), respectively.

Conclusion: The use of in-plane overlying bismuth radioprotective latex manufactured into form-fitting garments did not affect the diagnostic CT image but reduced the amount of radiation to radiosensitive superficial structures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bismuth*
  • Breast / radiation effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Eye / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latex
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Protective Clothing*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Protection / instrumentation*
  • Radiography, Thoracic*
  • Testis / radiation effects
  • Thyroid Gland / radiation effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Latex
  • Bismuth