What Is an X-Ray?
X-ray imaging became a valuable diagnostic tool before the 20th Century. The process has evolved over time and remains integral to emergency care in which prompt evaluation is necessary. This modality is one of the most accessible, affordable, and expedient methods of obtaining important data. In fact, the process has become even more efficient thanks to digital software and transmission to the referring physician’s office.
Where Are X-Rays Performed?
- Bones and teeth:
Physicians frequently rely on x-ray images to assess the condition of bones because hard tissue such as bone appears white on an x-ray. Clinicians are able to identify areas of decay, infection, and fracture. X-rays can reveal tumors on bone, as well as arthritic conditions in joints.
Physicians may order chest x-rays to evaluate for lung conditions or infection such as pneumonia. Blood vessel blockages may also be revealed if x-rays are performed with contrast material (iodine). X-rays can reveal heart enlargement as well as breast cancer (mammography).
X-ray imaging can quickly identify if a foreign object has been swallowed and where along the digestive tract that object lies.
X-Ray vs MRI & CT Scan
X-rays and CT scans both rely on radiation to capture accurate images. X-rays enable physicians to differentiate between hard matter and soft, or air. CT scans produce cross-sectional, 360-degree images by revolving x-ray beams around the body and capture images. The result is a high-quality 3-dimensional view.
MRI imaging requires more time on the table than most X-rays and CT scans. There is no radiation exposure during Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A clear view of normal versus abnormal tissue is obtained with strong magnets and radio waves.
Risks of X-Ray Imaging
We know from research that the value of X-ray imaging outweighs the risks of radiation exposure. How much exposure takes place is dependent on the part of the body being observed. According to experts, the radiation emitted by x-ray machines is low, and should not pose significant risk of cell mutation. Patients who are pregnant or who think they might be need to disclose this information to their physician and to GO Imaging. Women that are pregnant will not receive an X-ray. The doctor will offer an alternative exam.
What to Expect During X-Ray
- Prior to X-ray imaging, the patient may have to remove jewelry and certain articles of clothing.
- The patient is positioned in such a manner to facilitate the clearest view of the anatomy to be examined.
- For certain X-rays, the patient may need to hold his or her breath.
- The technician will step just outside of the X-ray area to operate the X-ray machine.
- X-rays are reviewed before the patient leaves the facility. This is done to ensure quality images have been obtained.
- If necessary, the radiologist will take more images. Otherwise, the patient is released from the facility.
After the x-rays, a radiologist will review and interpret the images. The radiologist will send a report o the referring physician, who will contact or schedule an office visit.