Updated advice aims to help radiographers around use of hand-held X-rays

SoR professional officer Lynda Johnson offers update on new guidance on hand-held X-ray equipment

Published: 19 February 2024 X-ray

By Lynda Johnson, SoR Professional Officer for Clinical Imaging and Radiation Protection

The SoR would like to draw radiographers’ attention to advice from Heads of the European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA) on the use of hand-held and dental X-ray equipment. 

Employers considering purchasing handheld X-ray equipment or handheld portable dental X-ray equipment, or those who are trialling or have recently purchased handheld equipment may find this helpful. The principles apply to the purchase of all portable and mobile equipment.

'HERCA Statements: Justification and use of hand-held X-ray equipment and POSITION STATEMENT on use of handheld portable dental X-ray equipment' can be found on the HERCA website.

Radiation employers must consult a suitable Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) for advice on complying with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.


Radiology services should engage the advice of a Medical Physics Expert (MPE) prior to procurement of any equipment capable of delivering medical ionising radiation exposures. The MPE must be appointed and be involved as appropriate for consultation on optimisation, dosimetry, quality assurance, dose measurements and equipment (The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017).

It is recommended that radiology services engage the RPA and MPE prior to the procurement of any equipment capable of delivering medical ionising radiation exposures. Early collaboration helps to ensure the equipment purchased is suitable for its proposed clinical use in the intended operational environment. Justification of exposures requires the benefits to outweigh the risks of the exposure.

HERCA advises that justification is specific to both the purpose and the environment within which the technology is being applied. The justification for using handheld X-ray equipment must be made with regard to the availability of alternative non-handheld equipment.

(Image: A handheld X-ray machine, by Kalinovskiy via GettyImages)