Effect of spinal immobilisation devices on radiation exposure in conventional radiography and computed tomography

B. Hemmes*, Cecile Jeukens, Gerrit J. Kemerink, Peter Brink, Martijn Poeze - van Bokhoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Trauma patients at risk for, or suspected of, spinal injury are frequently transported to hospital using full spinal immobilisation. At the emergency department, immobilisation is often maintained until radiological work-up is completed. In this study, we examined how these devices influence radiation exposure and noise, as a proxy for objective image quality. Conventional radiographs (CR) and computer tomography (CT) scans were made using a phantom immobilised on two types of spineboard and a vacuum mattress and using two types of headblocks. Images were compared for radiation transmission and quantitative image noise. In CR, up to 23 % and, in CT, up to 11 % of radiation were blocked by the devices. Without compensation for the decreased transmission, noise increased by up to 16 % in CT, depending on the device used. Removing the headblocks led to a statistically significant improvement in transmission with automatic exposure control (AEC) enabled. Physicians should make an informed decision whether the increased radiation exposure outweighs the risk of missing a clinically significant injury by not making a CR or CT scan. Manufacturers of immobilisation devices should take radiological properties of their devices into account in the development and production process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Spinal immobilisation
  • Radiation exposure
  • Image quality
  • Conventional radiography (CR)
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • CT


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