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All You Need to Know About X-Rays

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02 Jul 2021, 23:24 GMT+10

Image text: X-ray images

Alt-text: All you need to know about X-ray imaging

Image description: X-ray imaging

Medical practitioners worldwide rely on x-rays to understand more about their patient's body and diagnose possible problems. Many lives have been saved due to the timely diagnosis possible due to the use of x-rays.

X-rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum and are typically produced when highly charged particles strike a material. While it's true that there are health implications of X-rays when used on the human body, the risk is low compared to the overall benefit. With that said, the risk of medical complications using x-rays gets higher with cumulative use.

Here are few quick factoids you should know about X-rays:

  • X-rays are naturally occurring
  • They are classified as a carcinogen
  • The benefits of X-rays outweigh any negatives
  • CT scans involve the use of massive doses of X-ray radiation
  • X-ray shows the bones in different shades of white because the bone absorbs them

Who Found X-Rays?

Wilhelm Rontgen was a popular German physicist who is credited with describing x-rays for the very first time. He recognized that x-rays could be used to form images of the bone without medical intervention due to how electromagnetic radiation interacts with different parts of the body.

All humans on earth have been exposed to radiation. Radioactive material is found abundantly in the air, soil, water, and vegetation.

Moreover, our planet is bombarded by radiation from heavenly bodies, also known as cosmic radiation. The earth's protective magnetic covering shields us against most of the radiation. This is why astronauts are covered in thick material to insulate themselves from radiation.

Types of Medical Imaging Technology Involving the Use of X-Rays

To produce an x-ray image, patients are placed in front of an x-ray detector and are exposed to x-ray pulses. Their bones, mostly made up of calcium, absorb the x-ray, hence the white shades.

All trapped gases, such as those lingering in the lungs, show up as dark patches because they don't absorb x-rays as efficiently.

The three most prominent types of medical imaging techniques include the following:

Radiography - this type of x-ray imaging is used to create a fuller picture of the bones, teeth, and chest. It uses the smallest doses of radiation.

Fluoroscopy - the radiologist watches the patient moving against x-rays and can take snapshots in real-time. This technique lets the radiologist watch the activity of the gut after the patient swallows barium. This method uses a high level of x-ray radiation, but it's not too concerning.

CT Scans - the patient is exposed to x-rays from several fan-shaped beams. They move slowly into a ring-shaped scanner that forms a 3D image of their body. This procedure involves a very high dose of x-ray radiation because of the large number of images captured in a single session.

Potential Risks of X-Rays

Like all types of low-frequency radiation, x-rays do have their caveats. The World Health Organization classifies X-rays as a carcinogen. However, the benefits of x-ray imaging outweigh the negative consequences - provided you take them in short doses.

Each procedure involving the use of x-rays has potential risk. For instance, a normal chest x-ray exposes the patient to about 2.4 days of natural background radiation.

Similarly, a full CT scan of the abdomen exposes the patient to about 2.7 years of natural background radiation.

Benefits of X-Rays

X-rays have played a monumental role in diagnosing and preventing diseases. They are an essential part of diagnosing diseases that would have otherwise gone undetected. Besides detecting bone fractures, medical practitioners can use x-ray images to find blockages, tumours, and foreign objects in the body.

In many cases, x-rays can be used to treat tumours, clear out blockages, and remove blood clots.

How X-Ray Images Are Billed

The billing policy applied to a patient depends on the practice they choose to visit. The cost of running each practice depends on various factors such as geography and other services. Most diagnostic specialists will bulk bill xray imaging in the case of patients who hold a Health Care Card or Pension Card.

This is a great way to ensure that most services remain accessible and affordable to patients.

Exceptions may apply in cases where Medicare does not apply or does not fully cover the cost of the examination.

For more details, don't hesitate to ask your doctor or medical practitioner about the cost of examination at the time of booking.

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