Everyone will have heard of x-rays, and some will have undergone this form of diagnostic treatment, but not that many people understand exactly how it all works. This makes sense; unless you’re an x-ray technician, there often isn’t a need to understand how x-rays do what they do. However, if you work in the medical field, or even if you’re a patient who needs an x-ray and wants to know more about it, it’s worth learning more. The more knowledge you have, the better your decision-making skills will be. Read on for a short guide to x-ray technology to help you get a better idea of how it works.
What Are X-Rays?
X-rays are a type of radiation known as electromagnetic radiation. They are similar to light, but they are able to pass through the majority of objects – including physical bodies – because they have more energy.
X-rays are generally used to see inside a patient’s body so that surgery is not required. X-rays can pick up foreign objects, broken bones, and other issues that would otherwise not be seen without opening the patient up, which in some cases, depending on the issue and the patient, can be dangerous.
In order for an x-ray to pick up images, there must be two x-ray detectors, one on each side of the body. This will allow an image to be formed and for medical experts to determine what the problem is via a relatively clear picture. It is best to purchase this kind of medical equipment from a recommended company such as malvernpanalytical.com in order to ensure you have all you need.
How Do X-Rays Work?
An x-ray – also known as a radiograph – can only be produced when the patient is positioned correctly, so this is the first thing that a technician will need to do. The patient should have the area of their body that needs to be looked at positioned between the x-ray source and x-ray detector. Once this is done, the x-ray machine is turned on, and the x-rays themselves will travel from one side to the other through the patient. They will be absorbed by the tissues at varying speeds, depending on the density (bone is denser than the skin, for example), resulting in an image.
The areas that more readily absorb x-rays will show up whiter on the image than those that find it harder, which is why you’ll see bones are the lightest areas of an x-ray image, and everything else will be seen in varying shades of gray.
Are There Risks?
When x-rays are used in the right way, there is very little risk to the patient or the technicians. Most of the time, you will find that the benefits of having an x-ray done will far outweigh the risks, and therefore, as long as the patient is given all the necessary information, it is likely that an x-ray will be the right course of diagnostic treatment. This is because an x-ray – which does not hurt – can pick up not only on broken bones but on potentially life-threatening conditions such as blood clots, cancer, infections, and blocked blood vessels.
However, it should be noted that x-rays do produce ionizing radiation, and this does hold the potential for harm to the tissue. The more x-rays someone has, the more potential harm could occur. In most cases, however, people will only need very few x-rays, and therefore the harm is negligible.