New Rule for Hand-Held Portable Dental X-Ray Machines (posted December 5, 2007)

Today, December 5, 2007, a new rule regarding the use of hand-held portable dental x-ray machines became effective. Rule 396 allows the limited use of hand-held portable dental x-ray machines and defines the conditions of use for these machines. Rule 396 is added to Part 9 - Dental X-Ray Installations. This is the first new rule since Part 14 - Mammography was added the Ionizing Radiation Rules on November 12, 1993.

Hand-held portable dental x-ray imaging is a new technology developed since the inception of the Ionizing Radiation Rules. The rules prohibited holding of the tube housing or cone by hand and required the operator to stand 6 feet from the x-ray tube during the exposure. Hand-held x-ray machines are now available that have increased shielding in the tube housing and provide backscatter shields for operator protection.

This new rule allows the use of hand-held portable dental x-ray machines where a portable x-ray unit is normally necessary such as in nursing homes, home health care, or for special needs patients. The rule prohibits the routine use of hand-held dental x-ray systems in dental offices where fixed units normally provide a higher level of operator protection.