What are X-rays?
X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to create images on a film or digital media of the internal tissues, bones, and organs. For various purposes, regular X-rays are done for the detection of tumours or bone fractures. X-rays are produced for medical purposes through the use of external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs and other internal structures. X-rays move through body structures onto specially-treated plates (similar to camera film), or digital media and a “negative” style image is formed (the more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film).
As the body undergoes X-rays, various parts of the body cause the X-Ray beams to pass through differing quantities. The body’s soft tissues (such as blood, skin, fat, and muscle) cause much of the X-Ray to move through the film or digital camera and appear dark grey. A bone or tumour that is denser than soft tissue enables the passage of several X-rays and appears white on the X-Ray. When a bone break occurs, the X-Ray beam travels through the fractured region and appears in the white bone as a dark line.
Other types of diagnostic procedures such as arteriograms, computed tomography ( CT) scans, and Fluoroscopy also use X-Ray technology. Radiation can cause birth defects during pregnancy. If you think you might be pregnant, always tell your radiologist or doctor.
How are X-rays performed?
X-rays may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of hospital treatment. Although each facility may have complex procedures in place, this method usually follows an X-Ray procedure:
- The patient may be asked to remove any clothing or jewellery that should conflict with the area of the body to be examined. If clothes must be removed, the patient will be given a gown to wear.
- The patient is placed on an X-Ray table carefully placing the portion of the body to be X-rayed between the X-Ray machine and a cassette containing the X-Ray film or specialized picture disk. Some exams can be carried out in a seated or standing position with the patient.
- Body parts which are not imaged can be covered with a lead apron (shield) to prevent X-Ray exposure.
- The X-Ray beam targets the area to be imaged.
- The patient needs to be very quiet or the picture gets blurred.
- The tech will step behind a protective window, and the picture will be taken.
Different X-rays can be taken at various angles, such as the front and side view of an X-Ray in the abdomen, depending on the body part under examination.