X-rays were first discovered in 1901 and have changed the world of modern medicine since. They are so important that the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was given a Nobel prize for discovering electromagnetic radiation.
Like most of the electromagnetic spectrum, we cannot see, feel, or hear x-rays. Instead, x-rays can pass right through the skin, bone, and metal – without harming the body. This unique quality allows them to be used in medical imaging procedures for diagnostic purposes.
Here are some of the most prominent uses of X-rays.
This is arguably the most useful component of x-rays in medical centres. Doctors take photographs of the patient’s body with the x-rays turned on. The x-rays pass effortlessly through the skin but take longer to travel through the bone structure. As a result, the bones appear more distinctively. This allows the doctor to form a picture of the patient’s bone health.
The x-ray images can indicate if the fracture is partial or complete (the bone is completely broken down into two pieces). The x-rays can also be used to determine if the bone has moved out of its original place. You can also use x-rays images to find out if the bone has shattered into smaller pieces.
This diagnosis is an important first step in finding the best possible treatment plan for the patient so they can properly heal.
Without x-rays, doctors will never be able to peer into the body like this – at least not without extensive surgical procedures, which can be harmful and possibly infectious.
The most effective way to peer into the urinary tract is to pass x-rays through it. This will highlight any possible abnormal growths (such as tumours) or objects that should not be there (such as kidney stones). Given the nature of kidney stones, it is not possible for doctors to diagnose this condition without x-rays.
In some cases, doctors may ask for an intravenous pyelogram (or IVP) involving x-rays if the patient has blood in their urine or they have experienced unusual pain in their lower abdominals.
Doctors use mammograms to take x-ray pictures of the breasts to look for signs of breast cancer. This type of medical imaging uses a low dose of x-rays (usually about 30 kVp) to view the inside of the breasts and check for abnormal growths.
The first few tests can also reveal if the patient needs further testing. X-rays have played a vital role in significantly reducing deaths that have been associated with breast cancer.
Radiation therapy involves the use of highly energetic particles such as x-rays to damage cancer cells. Some abnormal cells grow and divide at a rapid pace, which can result in deadly tumours. X-ray radiation therapy works by breaking the DNA inside the cells.
It is worth mentioning that normal cells are also affected by the radiation, but most of them recover and/or the body is able to produce more of them without any disruption to healthy activity.
Doctors have to strategize the use of radiation therapy to minimize damage to nearby healthy cells. Some x-ray radiation treatments may involve using radioactive substances that are inserted into the vein or orally ingested. The radioactive substance collects around the tumour, and doesn’t affect the rest of the body.
Most people with cancer will be prescribed radiation therapy in conjunction with other types of treatment. Radiation therapists should get all proper equipment for a safe workplace, Contact us.
The hospitality and travel industry would not be able to stay on top of security issues without the use of affordable x-ray scans of the human body and baggage. These specialized security systems can scan incoming objects for dangerous items. Nearly every airport deploys x-ray scans as an additional security system to thwart possible attacks and check for banned items.
Use in Astronomy
X-rays allow astronomers to study the sky and form and learn more about the universe. For example, many celestial bodies such as binary systems, black holes, and neutron stars release hot x-rays that are picked up by high-altitude telescopes.
These x-ray telescopes are specially designed to use low-angle reflections to focus high-energy light that would otherwise pass undetected through normal mirrors. Most orbital telescopes are outfitted with x-ray scanners.
This isn’t to say that X-rays are completely safe. Too much exposure to X-rays can cause problems in living tissues. The risk is small but increases with higher exposure.
This is why patients are advised by radiologists at Mermaid Beach Radiology to keep track of their X-history. This ensures that doctors won’t have to take more scans than is necessary.