What is an X-ray Imaging?
X-ray beams are a form of wavelength radiation with strong, penetrating rays. They pass through all body fluids, soft tissue, and structures easily, except highly dense tissue such as bones. The shades of grey shown on the film or imaging plate indicate the amount of X-ray beams that are passed through the body. Thus, bones that allow little X-ray beams to pass through show up white while lungs which allow more X-ray beams to pass through show up black. The medical imaging doctor interprets differing degrees of gray shades to make a diagnosis. These are the basic principles of X-rays.
A routine X-ray imaging is an essential part of the assessment and diagnosis for many diseases. It is a fast, convenient and inexpensive test. However routine X-ray imaging cannot accurately detect problems in soft tissue. Therefore, at times a more complex type of imaging may be required such as a CT scan or MRI.
When is X-ray imaging usually done?
A routine X-ray imaging is usually done to assess or diagnose:
• Problems related to lungs, bones, and teeth, such as pneumonia, bone fractures, and decayed teeth
• Joint and spinal abnormalities, such as osteoarthritis and vertebral compression fractures
• Certain cardiac disorders, showing the shape and size of the heart, such as rheumatic heart disease
• Tumors, such as lung tumors and breast tumors
• Fluid accumulation, such as fluid in the lungs or gastrointestinal tract
Are X-ray beams harmful to our bodies?
The amount of radiation from X-ray beams determines whether an X-ray imaging is harmful to our bodies.
The amount of radiation from X-ray beams used in X-ray imaging is usually very low and is very unlikely to be harmful to the body. However repeat X-ray imaging may result in some risk because the radiation accumulated may damage some cells in the body, possibly leading to cell mutations which may induce cancer.
Can pregnant women have X-ray imaging done?
Established medical organizations such as the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), state that the radiation amount from a single X-ray imaging used for diagnosis generally do not harm an embryo or fetus, and X-ray imaging of the head, limbs, and chest are also generally harmless.
We still recommend, however, that pregnant women avoid medical imaging using X-ray beams where possible, particularly during the first three months of pregnancy. This includes routine X-ray imaging and CT scans, especially of the abdomen and pelvic cavity. Pregnant women can choose alternative types of medical imaging, such as ultrasound or MRI, which do not harm the fetus. If, a routine X-ray imaging is still required due to clinical situation, pregnant women can wear lead-protective clothing to protect and reduce radiation exposure to their abdomen and pelvic cavity.