Should you get an X-ray for that injured ankle? Why does your doctor suggest an X-ray if you’re having lung trouble? And should you get an X-ray, a CT scan, or an MRI?
Read on to learn X-ray facts that answer 4 questions about X-rays.
1. How Do X-Rays Work?
X-rays are a type of radiation that passes through the body. The rays are absorbed by dense material such as bone but pass through softer tissue.
When a person gets an X-Ray, this radiation is directed towards the part of the body getting the scan. After it passes through the body, it displays an image on a screen, a film, or a digital scanner. Areas where dense material absorbed radiation appear on the image as white areas, while darker spots show places where radiation passed through the body.
This is why an X-ray of a person shows white skeletal bones surrounded by darker areas.
2. Are X-Rays Safe?
In the very first days of using X-rays, scientists and entertainers used X-ray technology for unnecessary scans, party tricks, carnival entertainment, and even for fitting shoes! This caused huge amounts of harm, since overexposure to radiation can lead to nausea, hair loss, deep burns, or even cancer.
As technology improved, the amount of radiation required for scans has been significantly reduced. A medical X-ray scan using film technology is said to use a safe level of radiation. Most medical care centers now have digital X-ray machines, which use even less radiation than traditional film x-ray machines.
3. When Do Doctors Prescribe X-Rays?
Doctors commonly use X-rays to diagnose fractures, broken bones, and dental issues. Regular X-ray images can also show bone conditions such as arthritis or lung trouble such as pneumonia.
A CT scan, which combines several X-ray images to create a 2-D or 3-D model, shows the body in more detail than a single X-ray. It is often used to check for tumors, brain injury, or organ damage.
An MRI scan uses magnetic scanners to provide detailed pictures of the soft tissues in your body. An MRI can scan a larger area of your body than most X-ray machines.
4. Why Do You Need to Drink Something?
In normal procedures, X-rays pass through soft tissue. To see the internal tissues, doctors may make you drink or ingest a contrast solution containing iodine or barium. The iodine or barium fills the tissues and blocks the X-rays, helping the tissues show up on the X-ray.
X-rays taken with contrast solutions can show organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines. These X-rays can even help photos detect your network of arteries and veins.
You may need to avoid food and drink for a few hours before having an X-Ray with a contrast solution. A contrast solution may also be required for an MRI or a CT scan.
Use These X-Ray Facts to Prepare for Your X-Ray
These X-ray facts should help you know what to expect for your next X-ray. If you still have questions, contact us to learn more about X-rays and how we can help you get the X-ray you need