As technologists, we’ve conducted thousands of x-rays. During those visits, almost every patient has asked, “What is that?” Patients were referring to a rectangular piece of lead covered in tape, commonly called a marker by radiology technologists. Many also notice that we make certain to include this piece of lead on every x-ray image. So, what is it?
Each lead marker is identified with an ‘R’ that represents right or an ‘L’ that represents left. They are also identified with the radiologic technologist’s initials. Every radiologic technologist places one of these lead markers on all images.
So, why are lead markers so important?
Lead markers are used to identify the radiologic technologist who performs the imaging study and to properly identify the patient’s right from left on the image. This is especially important because a patient may have a condition that alters anatomy such as situs inversus or dextrocardia. If a patient has situs inversus, the organs are positioned on the opposite side of the body. Dextrocardia is when the heart is oriented toward the right instead of the left.
If you find yourself having an x-ray at Wake Radiology, surprise the radiologic technologist by commenting on their lead markers!