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Radiation in Medicine

Please note that the radiation program is currently under review. We appreciate your patience.

Use of ionizing radiation sources in medicine

Radiation sources are widely used in medicine, particularly in diagnostic & interventional X-rays, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy, and radioimmunoassay.

BCCDC regularly provides expertise and technical assistance in the field of radiation protection to ministries, regulatory bodies, and professional associations involved with radiation. In addition, radiation users in medicine often refer to BCCDC to resolve radiation safety issues inherent to their practice. 

The radiation issues most frequently encountered are related to numerous medical applications, such as the following:

  • Bone Densitometry
  • Chiropractic
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Dental
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Mammography
  • Radiography
  • Veterinary
  • Personal Protection - Patient and Worker
  • Shielding Guidelines
There has been a significant growth in the installation of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA) Bone Mineral Densitometry units.

Bone mineral densitometry equipment

This type of medical x-ray procedure started attracting attention from the medical community and patients in the early 1990s. The evaluation of Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD) has evolved from being a "questionable" diagnostic procedure to a well-accepted clinical tool for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is one of the major causes leading to bone fractures.

There are different modalities for BMD, such as Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA), Quantitative Ultrasound (QUS), Radiographic Absorptiometry (RA) and Quantitative Computerized Tomography (QCT). Among these, DEXA has become the preferred modality because of its accuracy and low radiation dose. 

BCCDC has conducted a study on the radiation levels around DEXA equipment and has developed general guidelines for facility owners and operators concerning radiation protection requirements. Also included in this study are effective doses for patients and workers. Based on the finding from this study, a Radiation Issues Note, titled RIN 11 - Radiological Safety in the Design and Operation of DEXA Bone Densitometry Facilities was produced.


X-ray shielding requirements 

Shielding Explanatory NotesShielding Checklist and specific Shielding Guidelines (click images below), along with other helpful information, may be used to determine the shielding required for a new installation or when modifying an existing installation.





Computed Tomography (CT)


  • HC SC35...Quality Assurance Program for Computed Tomography (CT) facilities. 


  • The use of X-rays in dental radiology is governed by Health Canada Safety Code 30, which applies to two-dimensional (2D) X-ray imaging (i.e. Film, Computed Radiography, and Digital Radiography) but a number of its radiation protection provisions apply also to Three-Dimensional (3D) dental imaging Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT).

  • The use of x-rays as a standard diagnostic procedure is well established in the profession. This use places an obligation on the dental practitioner who must weigh the benefits of additional diagnostic information against the risk from radiation exposure to the patient.

  • In keeping with current radiation protection philosophy, exposure to all persons should be kept As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) . Therefore, it is imperative that radiographic procedures are optimized to provide acceptable diagnostic information to the dental practitioner with the minimum radiation exposure to the patient and dental office staff.

  • The Dental X-ray Facts booklet provides the dental practitioner, dental clinic/office staff and patients with a number of facts on the use of x-rays in dentistry.

  • RIN 21 - Guideline for Wearing Radiation Monitoring Devices [Personal Dosimeters] - provides guidance to owners/operators in facilitites where ionizing radiation is used on the need for wearing personal radiation monitoring devices (i.e. dosimetry badges).

  • RIN 28 - Use of Dental Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) - provides guidance to owners/operators of dental facilities utilizing CBCT for dental imaging.




Cone Beam CT Guidelines


[supplement to HC SC30]


click image to go to the Veterinary page

  • Information for Veterinarians and Vet facilities
SOURCE: Radiation in Medicine ( )
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