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X-RAY

What is an X-ray?

In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered the X-ray. His remarkable achievement radically changed the practice of medicine. For the first time physicians could see beyond the skin and underlying soft tissues to the skeleton without autopsy. Roentgen did not entirely understand these unusual rays. He used the letter "X" to describe the rays because in algebra "X" refers to an unknown.

When the spine is X-rayed, the beams pass through the skin and underlying soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons). When the beams meet bone (vertebra) it stops creating a white shadow on the film. A bone abnormality is reflected on the finished film. Shades of gray mirror the density of the different tissues.

Because of advancements in computer technology, it is now possible to send the images directly to a computer instead of film, called a digital X-ray. Diagnostic Professionals, Inc. performs digital X-rays in all of our Broward County, Florida offices.

An X-ray may rule out particular problems involving bone and some soft tissue disorders. When an X-ray proves inconclusive, additional tests may be ordered, especially if something suspicious is detected.

How safe is an X-ray?

X-rays are very safe. Radiography, the most common type of X-ray, produces very low amounts of radiation.

However, if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, tell your doctor and out staff including our technologist. X-rays on pregnant women are generally avoided near the womb, though on occasion the health benefit of diagnosing and treating your condition may outweigh the risk. Your doctor and out technologist will discuss all your options with you.

Children are also at greater risk from radiation, so there should be a clear medical reason for any child to receive an X-ray.

What will I experience during an X-ray?

Having an X-ray is a short, pain-free procedure. First you will be asked to remove any metal objects from the part of your body that will be X-rayed, such as your watch or jewelry. Your body will be positioned so that it lines up with the X-ray camera.

Often the X-ray technologist will use a lead blanket or apron to cover your body parts not being X-rayed. While the X-ray is being conducted, you will be asked to stay still.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an X-ray?

X-rays are best for looking at bone. They are not helpful for looking at soft tissue trauma. Since X-rays are non-invasive procedures, your physician will be able to see any trauma to the bone without the need for surgery. The results of your X-ray can be used to help determine a course of treatment for your condition.

The disadvantage of X-rays is that they are not as powerful or detailed as CT scans. They produce a 2-dimensional picture of the body rather than a 3-dimensional cross-section as in a CT scan.

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