ORINS Syringe Shield (early 1950s)

ORINS Syringe Shield

This syringe shield was used at the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies (ORINS), now known as the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Its purpose was to protect the nurse or physician from the gamma rays emitted by the radiopharmaceutical being injected into the patient. The elongate mirror on the side of the shield (to the left of the round plate) was used to view the level of the solution in the syringe. A small battery-powered light inside the shield provided the necessary illumination. 

ORINS Syringe Shield

The problem with the device was that its large size and weight led to poor and occasionally dangerous injections. Dr. Marshall Brucer, the acerbic head of the ORINS Medical Division, described this particular instrument as a “3-bladed advertisement for health physics wrapped around a piece of junk.”

The photograph to the left shows the injection of a radiopharmaceutical into the arm of a patient. Note how awkward it is to handle the heavy and bulky shield.

Weight: 5.6 pounds

Kindly donated by Jim Berger.


  • Marshall Brucer. Personal communication.
  • Marshall Brucer. Radioisotope Hazards and Protection in a Hospital. Journal of the American Medical Association Vol. 147: 1745-1751; 1951.