X-ray examinations are the most common studies performed by diagnostic imaging departments. X-rays are a form of ionizing radiation that can pass through most tissues of the body to some degree. This allows them to be used to produce images of body parts.

Regardless of the body part being examined, x-ray studies are performed in a similar manner:

  • An x-ray tube produces x-rays when a stream of electrons are directed at a special metal target in the tube.
  • The x-rays are directed out of the tube to the body part being examined
  • The x-rays pass through the body part to varying degrees depending upon the density of the tissues.
  • The x-rays that have passed through the body part are received by a "detector" to produce an x-ray image. Digital x-ray detectors do not use film.

The discovery of x-rays revolutionized the diagnosis of disease. Prior to x-ray there was no way to visualize diseased body parts short of resorting to surgery. Modern x-ray equipment produces high quality images using a minimum of radiation dose. Like any other imaging technique, x-ray has it's limitations and is not appropriate for all situations.

Common types of x ray studies include:

  • Chest x-rays
  • Abdominal x-rays
  • Skeletal, joint x-rays

X-Ray equipment:

X-ray studies are used to look for pneumonia, tumors, arthritis, fractures etc. depending upon the body part being examined. Specialized x-ray studies include mammography, barium studies, intravenous pyelography, myelography etc.

Sample Images:

picture of Chest X-Ray

picture of Spine X-Ray
Chest X-Ray Spine X-Ray

picture of Foot X-Ray

picture of Hip X-Ray

Foot X-Ray

Hip X-Ray

X-Rays with Contrast Material

X-rays are used to obtain images for a variety of specialized radiological studies including:

  • Intravenous Pyelograms - an examination of the kidneys and bladder.
  • Barium Studies - examinations of the esophagus, stomach, small and large bowel.
  • Myelograms - an examination of the spine.
  • Arthrograms - examinations of joints.
  • Hysterosalpingograms - examinations of the uterus and fallopian tubes.¬†

These and other special x-ray studies use an x-ray contrast material of some type (injected x-ray dye, swallowed barium etc.) to outline the body part of interest so that x-ray pictures of it can be taken. The technical details of how each procedure is performed are beyond the scope of this document. The exams vary as to the length of time each takes to complete. Some of the exams require patient preparation. This is discussed further in the X-ray F.A.Q's. (see link below).

Sample Images:

picture of Barium study of large bowel. picture of Myelogram study (neck)
Barium study of large bowel. Myelogram study (neck)
picture of Intravenous Pyelogram picture of Hysterosalpingogram
Intravenous Pyelogram Hysterosalpingogram
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