X-Ray

Published On 07/11/2011

Bone x rays are a diagnostic test in which ionizing radiation passing through the bones being examined enables an image to be produced on film.

Bone x rays are ordered to detect disease or injury to the bone such as broken bones, tumors, and other problems. They can determine bone density, texture, erosion, and changes in bone relationships. Bone x rays also evaluate the joints for diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Most people are familiar with common x-ray procedures. Approximately half of all radiographs obtained in medical institutions are images of the chest. A chest x-ray is usually done for the evaluation of lungs, heart and surrounding anatomy. Pneumonia, heart failure, pleurisy and lung cancer can be diagnosed or suspected on a chest x-ray, along with other less common conditions.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Chest x-rays might be used to evaluate:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A bad or persistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • A chest injury
  • Fever

How should I prepare for the procedure?

This procedure requires no special preparation. Women should always inform their doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

What does the equipment look like?

Our chest x-ray equipment consists of a box-like apparatus and a x-ray tube that the patient stands between.

All other x-rays are obtained on a large, flat table with a drawer that holds a x-ray film cassette into which a film is placed. Suspended above the table is an apparatus that holds the x-ray tube.

How does the procedure work?

Radiography involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of radiation to produce an image of the internal organs. When x-rays penetrate the body, they are absorbed in varying amounts by different parts of the anatomy. Ribs, for example, absorb much of the radiation and, therefore, appear white or light gray on the image. Lung tissue absorbs little radiation and appears dark on the image. The exposed film are digitally stored on computer. After a few months or years, the images may be used to compare with later radiographic views if illness develops.

How is the procedure performed?

You must remove their clothing and put on a loose-fitting robe to wear. You will also be asked to remove all metallic jewelry that may interfere with the x-rays. For a chest x-ray, you will stand with your chest pressed to the photographic plate, with hands on hips and elbows pushed in front in a somewhat exaggerated position. The technologist will ask the patient to be still and to take a deep breath and hold it. This not only reduces the possibility of a blurred image but also enhances the quality of the since air-filled lungs are easier to see than in deflated lungs. Next, the technologist walks into another small room or cubicle to activate the radiographic equipment, which sends a beam of x-rays from behind you, through your chest to the film behind the plate, thus exposing the film.

The technologist may will remove the film and put new, unexposed film in its place. You will then stand stands sideways to the photographic plate and the process is repeated. The back-to-front image is called a posteroanterior view. The side image is called a lateral view. Views from other angles may be obtained if the radiologist needs to evaluate additional areas of the chest. Also, chest radiography may be repeated over days or months to evaluate any slow-to-develop changes. These repeated, sequential views are called serial chest radiographs.

When the chest x-rays are completed you will be asked to wait until the technologist and radiologist examine the images to determine if more are needed.

What will I experience during the procedure?

This is a painless procedure. The only discomfort may come from the coldness of the plate.

What are the benefits of X-Rays?

Benefits

  • A physician may recommend a chest radiography for a patient with shortness of breath, a bad or persistent cough, chest pain, or a chest injury. The chest image is especially helpful when used to confirm or rule out the presence of pneumonia. The inflamed tissue of pneumonia will appear white on the image.
  • A chest radiography may also show the size, location, and amount of tissue damaged by a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) or the severity of bronchitis or emphysema.
  • A cancerous mass in or near the lungs may also be seen on a chest radiograph.
  • Heart irregularities, such as fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion), an enlarged heart, or abnormal heart anatomy, may also be revealed.

Risks
X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, are invisible and create no sensation when they pass through your body. Women should always inform their doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about 0.1 mSv which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in 10 days.

Radiation risks are further minimized by:

  • The use of high-speed x-ray film that does not require much radiation to produce an optimal image.
  • Technique standards established by national and international guidelines that have been designed and are continually reviewed by national and international radiology protection councils.
  • Our state-of-the-art x-ray systems that have tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant filtration and x-ray dose control methods. Thus, stray or scatter radiation is minimized and those parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal exposure.
    back to top

What are the limitations of Chest Radiography?

Chest radiography has limitations. Some diseases of the lung will not show up on the image. Therefore, a normal chest radiograph does not necessarily rule out pulmonary problems. Patients with asthma, for example, can have normal chest radiographs.

Chest radiography and a physical examination may be done jointly. The information each procedure provides can give a physician a clearer understanding of a patient's health.

In certain cases, the referring physician may request a chest CT scan if the chest radiographs do not answer the clinical problem.