X-ray is short for X-radiation and it is a form of electromagnetic radiation. In the medical world, X-rays are done often performed to diagnose problems in bones, organs and blood vessels. X-rays are performed by a radiologist.
It is important to note that a radiologist is well-trained to perform different types of X-rays. He or she knows the proper procedure for each examination. Follow the instruction of your radiologist like properly positioning the body and holding one’s breath when he or she signals. For example, when undergoing a chest X-ray, taking a deep breath and holding it inflates the lungs, making the surrounding structures and tissues more visible for a clearer output image.
Bones are hard tissue that can easily be seen through an X-ray. This is performed to check if there are any bone fractures, bone infection, tooth decay, thinning of bones, curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and bone cancer.
A chest X-ray is a good way to see any abnormalities in the chest area including the arteries, heart and lungs. This examination can diagnose heart conditions such as a congenital heart disease, heart failure and pericarditis. For the lungs, it can diagnose lung cancer, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Contrast Medium X-ray
Contrast medium X-rays involve a liquid that the patient is required to drink before the X-ray is performed. This is done to differentiate the structures in the body. Patients with allergies to contrast medium in the past should inform the radiologist right away.
- Barium Swallow is a test to diagnose problems in the upper digestive system and to check abdominal pain symptoms.
- Barium Enema tests involve pumping barium solution through the anus to diagnose bowel problems like constipation and blood in stool.
- Angiography is a test to check the blood vessels.
- Intravenous Urogram involves injecting iodine solution into the veins to diagnose problems in the kidney, bladder and urinary tract.
Patients undergoing X-rays are exposed to a minimal amount of radiation. This is not something to be concerned about as humans are exposed to various natural sources of radiation on a daily basis. The amount of radiation from X-rays is equal to the natural radiation one can get in 10 days. However, pregnant women cannot undergo X-rays as the radiation can affect fetal development.
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