X-Ray Radiography

The X-ray radiography exam is a type of medical imaging that is normally performed by a radiologist at a medical clinic or imaging center. X-rays describe radiation in a certain frequency range on the electromagnetic spectrum. These rays pass through the body in order to show the internal structure. The X-ray process was discovered by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. He realized that X-rays could pass through human tissue but not through bone or metal. Röntgen laid the groundwork for modern medical use when he took an image of his wife’s hand that showed the bones inside.

How X-Ray Radiography Works

Visible light is radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum that behaves in a particularly useful way. The different frequencies of light bounce off of or are absorbed by most surfaces in our world, allowing us to form a full-color image of the world around us. X-rays behave a little differently. By looking at how they pass through or are absorbed by denser materials inside our bodies, we form an image of the internal structures that can be useful in diagnosing many medical conditions. Normally an X-ray generator or X-ray tube emits the radiation on one side of the section of the body being examined, while a photographic plate or digital detector absorbs the radiation on the other side, creating an image of what lays in between. Digital imaging, available at CVI, has added value of lower radiation to the patient and ease of use.

Important Uses of X-Ray Imaging

X-rays are the oldest type of medical imaging and are still used more frequently than any other. General X-rays are used to identify fractures and broken bones, injuries, infections, kidney stones and foreign objects. They are very useful for imaging parts of the body such as the chest, spine, arms legs, and feet. X-rays are often used in emergency medicine as they require no preparation and can be performed in wide variety of ways.

Other common users of X-ray imaging include the diagnosis of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, scoliosis, back pain, neck pain, bone age, as well as conducting skeletal surveys for multiple myeloma.

Potential Dangers from Using X-ray Radiation for Medical Imaging

X-ray radiation is potentially dangerous at high levels. Modern X-ray examinations use very low levels of radiation to achieve results. There is still a very small risk, but in general the medical benefits of diagnosis and treatment guided by X-ray imaging far outweigh the risks. It is also worth noting that X-ray radiation is naturally occurring as well. The amount you receive in an exam may be roughly equivalent to the amount you would normally receive over a few days or 2 to 3 years, depending on the type of examination.

There is a significantly higher risk to younger children and to unborn babies. X-rays are normally not used for pregnant women unless the benefit outweigh the risks. The reason is that younger children have a much higher rate of cell-division which can greatly magnify the effect of DNA damage.

Crown Valley Imaging located in Orange County has two imaging centers in Mission Viejo and Newport Beach where you can have X-ray exams performed by qualified technologists at the Mission Viejo office. Images are read and interpreted by Board Certified Neuroradiologists and Board Certified Musculoskeletal Radiologists and reports are generated within 24-48 business hours.