An X-ray is a quick procedure that produces the inside images of the body. It’s one of the effective ways to analyze bones and multiple other conditions. Radiographers, trained specialists, perform X-rays, and other medical professionals can also conduct one.
X-rays help examine most body parts, especially bones and joints. In some instances, they help identify the problems affecting internal organs. X-rays mainly help with:
- Bone breaks and fractures
- Dental problems
- Abnormal spine
- Lung cancer and pneumonia
- Swallowing problems
- Heart problems
- Breast cancer
They guide the surgeons and doctors during specific procedures.
How do X-rays work?
They are radiation that passes through the human body and is not visible to naked eyes. When X-ray radiation passes through the body, the energy from it is absorbed in different rates by all body parts. A detector on the opposite side picks up the X-rays’ radiation and produces an image. Dense body parts (bones) don’t allow the radiation to pass through, and the softer parts allow passing. So bones show up as white on the image.
Contrast is a substance given to patients before an X-ray in some instances; this substance helps soft tissues for clear visibility on the X-ray. Following are the types of contrast X-rays:
- Barium swallow – A swallowing substance that helps to highlight the upper digestive system.
- Barium enema – A substance that passes through your bowel via the bottom.
- Angiography – Iodine injection to the blood vessel helps highlight the blood vessels and heart.
- Intravenous urogram (IVU) – Iodine injection to the blood vessel helps to highlight the bladder and kidneys.
These X-rays need preparation beforehand and may take longer to carry out.
Are X-rays safe?
Only a low level of radiation for a fraction of a second will be used during X-rays in parts of your body. The amount of X-ray radiation is equivalent to years of natural radiation exposure. But X-ray radiation exposure carries a very minimal risk of causing cancer only after years or decades.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 23 JUNE 2022