X ray imaging involves electromagnetic waves or radiation used to create pictures of the internal parts of the body. The images show your body parts in various shades of black and white. The reason is that tissues can absorb different levels or amounts of the x ray beam.
The most familiar use of X ray examination is checking for fractured bones. However, health professionals also use it in many other ways, for example, to spot pneumonia. Research shows that mammograms also use X-rays to diagnose breast cancer.
In today’s article, we will talk about what X-ray is, how this imaging test works, its history, applications, and more.
History of X-ray Imaging
X-rays were discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. He was a German Physicist who took the first X-ray image that showed the skeletal composition of his wife’s hand. Health professionals including doctors and nurses around the world began to use X-rays in 1896.
Marie Curie made huge contributions to the field of chemistry and physics. She also played a key role in the world of medicine, and specifically in radiology. Curie had thoroughly studied x-ray imaging and machines in her research during the First World War where she made a few advances in this field.
She worked on the X-ray machine discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen. She used her newly discovered radium, as a source of gamma-rays on X-ray machines. The purpose of using radium on the machine was to produce stronger and more accurate images of the body tissues.
Curie had also created portable X-ray machines for medics who work in the field. Her incredible work helped thousands of medics who saved many lives during the war. In 1946, Felix Bloch and Edward Purcell independently discovered nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). In 1952, these American physicists received a Nobel Prize for their exceptional contribution toward medical imaging.
How Does X-ray Imaging Work?
In general, the x ray machine relies on electromagnetic radiation, which is generated by an x ray tube, projected towards the patient undergoing the diagnostic imaging procedure. It is imperative to know that you can’t see X-rays with the naked eye. When these waves pass through the body, the energy, or radiation, is absorbed at various rates by different organs and tissues of the body.
A detector picks up the X-rays and turns them into an image. Some parts of the body are dense, which don’t allow the X-rays to pass through them easily. For example, a bone x ray will often reveal a clear image.
On the other hand, soft parts of the body allow X-rays to pass through them more easily. The heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc. are examples of soft tissue and show up as darker areas on the radiological image.
X-ray Imaging Applications (Use Cases)
Like Gamma rays, it is not possible to see, feel, and hear X-rays. However, these waves or radiations can easily pass through skin, bone, and metal to generate images that the naked human eye would never see. Anyway, here are a few applications of X-rays.
Fractured Bones: Undoubtedly, X-ray machines are an integral component of medical institutions and centers. The most common application of X-rays is to detect broken bones in the body. A health professional places a photographic film behind the body and turn on the X-ray machine.
Radiation Therapy: X-rays also play a key role in the fight against cancer. Radiation exposure using high-energy waves has been proven to kill cancer cells and reduce the intensity of tumors. Remember, radiation therapy is dangerous, but still, over 50% of cancer patients receive it regularly.
Airport Security: The security system of most airports around the world is incomplete without the implementation of X-ray machines. The security staff uses the machine to scan baggage and check for illegal items. Many airports are also using full-body X-ray scans to enhance their security measures.
How Are X-Rays Stored?
Medical professionals print X-ray images on film and paper but today, most doctors and radiologists interpret them electronically by storing them on PACS. It stands for “Picture Archiving and Communication System,” which is a medical imaging technology that radiologists use to store, retrieve, present, and share images produced by the machine.
There are several advantages of using X-ray imaging devices and machines. For instance, you can use them to produce images of the human body to rule out health problems and diagnose disorders. X-rays are also used in radiation therapy, airport security, and revealing fake art.