X-rays, also called radiographs, are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. An x-ray machine produces a small burst of radiation that passes through the body, recording the image digitally. Different parts of the body absorb the x-rays in varying degrees. Dense bone absorbs much of the radiation while soft tissue, such as muscle, fat and organs, allow more of the x-rays to pass through them. As a result, bones appear white on the x-ray, soft tissue shows up in shades of gray and air appears black.
- X-ray imaging is fast and easy; it is particularly useful in emergency diagnosis and treatment.
- Chest x-ray’s are very useful for diagnosing acute chest issues such as pneumonia or congestive heart failure and chronic chest issues such as emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis.
- Extremity x-ray’s are particularly useful for evaluating for fracture or arthritis.
- X-rays are a type of invisible electromagnetic. During a single x-ray exposure, a patient is exposed to approximately 20 milliroentgens of radiation. To put this into perspective, we are exposed to approximately 100 milliroentgens of radiation each year from sources like the ultraviolet rays of the sun and small traces of radioactive isotopes, such as uranium found in soil.
- Woman should always inform their doctor and the x-ray technologist if there is a possibility that they are pregnant.
Radiation risks are further minimized by:
- Technique standards established by national and international guidelines that have been designed and are continually reviewed by national and international radiology protection councils.
- Modern, state-of-the-art x-ray systems that have tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant x-ray beam filtration and dose control methods. Thus, stray or scatter radiation is minimized, and those parts of a patient’s body not being imaged receive minimal exposure.
- At Edison Imaging Associates and Advanced Medical Imaging, we strive to have patient safety as our primary concern. We consistently monitor our procedures for issues and continually strive to lower per case radiation dose.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
This procedure requires no special preparation. You will be given a loose-fitting gown to wear. Patients will also be asked to remove all metallic jewelry that may interfere with the x-rays. Women should always inform their doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
How is the procedure performed?
Generally, two or three x-rays will be taken depending on the body part that is being viewed. You will be asked to remain as still as possible during the very short exposure time. If necessary, you will be instructed to hold your breath in order to prevent motion from blurring the images. A patient may return to normal activities once his x-rays are complete.
This is a painless procedure. The primary discomfort may come from the coldness of the x-ray machine. Individuals with arthritis or injuries may have discomfort trying to maintain position. In these circumstances, the technologist will assist you in finding a position that still ensures diagnostic image quality.