X-ray (radiography) is a quick, safe and painless test that produces images of bones, lungs, some of your soft tissue and internal organs. The images produced help your doctor to diagnose and treat bone fractures, joint injuries, arthritis and many conditions involving the chest.
History of X-Ray
Wilhelm Roentgen, a German professor of physics, discovered x-rays in 1895 while experimenting with the passing of an electric current through gases at extremely low pressure. He observed that certain rays were being emitted which were able to penetrate cardboard, wood and even the human body. He used a photographic plate and was able to capture the first x-ray, his wife's hand.
Digital vs. Film
There are several important advantages of digital x-ray over film x-ray (conventional radiography). During a digital x-ray, images are recorded on digital image capture devices much like a digital camera. These images can immediately be stored, viewed, enhanced or transferred. During a film x-ray, the film must be developed in a dark room which takes much longer, and the images are not in digital format. More importantly, digital x-ray uses less radiation and produces clearer images with better contrast and resolution.
How does an X-Ray work?
During an x-ray, beams are produced by a special x-ray tube, sort of like a supercharged light bulb. The beams are sent through the body to highly specialized digital sensor plates, similar to those in a digital camera, only much larger. Different parts of the body absorb the x-rays in varying degrees. Dense materials like bones appear white on an x-ray, while soft tissue such as fat and muscle are varying shades of gray. Lungs are mostly filled with air and appear almost black.
A computer then processes and records the images taken without any film being utilized. These electronically stored images are easily accessible and can be compared to other x-ray studies as needed.