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Learn important information about x-rays. Why are they needed, how do they work, and what are some dangers?

Diagnostic x-rays (sometimes written xrays or x rays) are a form of radiation with very small wavelengths used to create an image, often to see deeper into the human body, such as to photograph a broken bone.

History of X-Rays

X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. X-rays, the "new light" and sometimes called "skiagrams" or "shadows" in their early years, were named as such because they were such a mystery and little was known about the type of radiation (or "rays") emitted at that time. X-rays are electromagnetic radiation that lie between gamma rays and ultraviolet rays. They travel at the speed of light and can behave like waves or particles at times. X-rays are more "energetic" than light rays and are invisible to the human eye.

A special x-ray film is placed on one side of the body and the radiation (x-rays) are passed through the body. The skin is not as dense as bone and therefore absorbs less radiation; in doing so, we are able to see a clear picture of objects beneath the skin such as bones/teeth, foreign objects in the body, abnormal growths, etc.

There are many uses for x-rays not only in the medical field but also elsewhere. X-rays can be used to see things in the body we wouldn't be able to detect otherwise, such as broken bones, dental cavities, foreign objects lodged in the body, cancer and other diseases, tumors, and more. Industrially x-rays are often used to determine the integrity of certain structures and to reveal flaws, among other uses.

Although x-rays should be used sparingly and with caution, they are a very accurate and non-invasive procedure administered in a clinical setting that require little or no preparation with no follow up or aftercare needed. Sometimes those scheduled for an x-ray are asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything 12 hours before the procedure.

Dangers of X-Rays

X-rays are a very common procedure with few risks. People can absorb large amounts of x-rays without any immediate signs of any damage taking place, but that doesn't mean that x-rays are completely safe. Exposure to radiation should always be kept at a minimum, but often times the results of an x-ray will provide vital information that will outweigh any risks.

Only the specific area in question is needed to be x-rayed rather than the entire body. For example, if a bone in the arm or wrist is broken, the rest of the body should be shielded during the x-ray to limit radiation exposure. A dental exam would only require x-rays to the mouth area.

Radiologists are required to wear special aprons often lined with lead to block out radiation exposure and also have screens and other special partitions to stand behind. They are also monitored regularly to ensure there are not dangerous levels of radiation being absorbed.

Who Should Avoid X-Rays?

Women who are pregnant should avoid x-rays (unless in dire medical need of having one) because it may damage the sensitive developing fetus. Similarly, those breastfeeding may want to store extra milk to last a day or two after the x-ray to avoid passing any radiation onto baby.

Those taking certain medications may need to avoid x-rays because some medications (such as certain cancer medications) can amplify the effects of the radiation. Those with suppressed immune system for any reason or diabetes may need special x-ray procedures that are not required by healthier individuals.

Other Information

Sometimes other aids are used when giving x-rays such as barium dyes, which are often used as a contrast agent. Obviously sensitivity or allergies to these dyes should be taken into consideration just as those with certain medical conditions or on certain other medications should.






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Comments (8)
Ranked #12 in Science

a very informative article indeed, thanks for posting it.

Excellent article! very informative and educational. You had given all the infos a reader would be looking for. I'm out of votes but I'll buzz it up :)

Ranked #38 in Science

Very good article.

We know it's not safe when the people taking the x-rays have to leave the room. When my son was taking x-rays of people he even had to be tested for radiation exposure because he was only allowed so much if any got in which it always did. My mom had lung cancer a few years back and still has to have several done a year to make sure it doesn't come back. We don't like this either but x-rays is what caught the cancer in the first place. So I guess, we just have to way out the odds.

well researched

A fascinating account into the history of sciemce.

X-rays were unconcealed in 1895 by Wilhelm author Röntgen testking 642-446 . X-rays, the "new light" and sometimes titled "skiagrams" or "shadows" in their primeval years, were titled testking 220-602 as much because they were much a perplexity and lowercase was famous most the identify of irradiation (or "rays") emitted at that time. X-rays are electromagnetic irradiation that untruth between gamma rays and ultraviolet rays. They journey at the pace of reddened and be able to bear alike waves or particles at times testking 220-601 . X-rays are more "energetic" than reddened rays and are concealed to the manlike eye. testking 83-640

Ranked #10 in Science

It's great to know more about x-rays.