What are X-Rays?
X-rays are high-energy electromagnetic beams of radiation that can penetrate through solid objects or tissues of the body. Their ability to penetrate through structures depends on the density of the structures. Structures of higher density such as bone absorb X-rays and do not allow them to pass through.
What is an X-Ray Study?
An X-ray study is a rapid, painless diagnostic procedure that uses low-dose x-ray radiation to produce images of the internal structures of the body. It is most commonly used to detect bone fractures. Dense areas of the body such as the bone, through which X-rays do not pass, appear white on the image. When a fracture is present, the fracture line will appear black. The lungs also appear black due to the air present in them. White areas shown on the lungs may be signs of a tumor or pneumonia. Fat and muscle appear as varying shades of gray.
Indications for X-rays
Besides detecting bone fractures, x-rays can also be used to evaluate:
- Abnormal spine curvature such as scoliosis
- Chest and abdominal lesions
- Developmental abnormalities
- Bone tumors
- Tooth decay
- Dental abscesses or cyst
- Breast cancer
- Swallowing abnormalities
X-rays are not recommended if you are pregnant.
What are Digital X-Rays?
Digital X-ray (digital radiography) is a new X-ray technology that uses an electronic sensor instead of an X-ray film and instantly produces digital images that can be stored and displayed on a computer. Digital x-rays reduce radiation exposure by 80% - 90% when compared to traditional X-rays.
How to Prepare for Digital X-Rays
Your x-ray technician will guide you to the examination room where you will be instructed to change into a patient’s gown. You will be advised to remove the jewelry and other metal items that interrupt the passage of X-rays. You should not stop taking regular medications unless advised by your doctor.
How Digital X-rays work?
The steps involved in this technique include:
- Image generation: The electromagnetic radiations passing through the tissues and organs are picked up by a digital receptor to produce images in digital form.
- Processing: The formed images are then processed in an image processor that enhances the quality of the images.
- Archiving: Images are stored on digital storage media.
- Presentation: The images are displayed on a computer screen.
Advantages of Digital X-Rays
- Digital x-rays produce significantly lower levels of radiation compared to traditional x-rays. Precautions are also taken to further limit the patient's exposure to radiation.
- The digital images captured electronically are immediately available for review.
- There is no need for X-ray films thus eliminating the harmful waste and chemicals disposed into the environment.