X-ray examination or X-ray is a medical imaging technique that uses electromagnetic radiation to take pictures or photos of the inside of the body. This procedure is part of the supporting examination for the purposes of establishing a more accurate diagnosis.
Injuries, infections, fractures, arthritis, tooth decay, osteoporosis, or bone cancer are some of the medical conditions that require an x-ray examination. The main priority for x-rays is to look at bones and joints. However, x-rays are sometimes also used to detect problems with soft tissues such as internal organs.
This light can also be used to check for problems with the lungs, breasts, heart, blood vessels, to the urinary and digestive tracts. Even an x-ray examination can be done to scan solid objects that have been accidentally swallowed.
In addition to X – rays, x-rays are also used in CT scan and fluoroscopy examination procedures . X-rays are also often used in radiotherapy to treat tumors or cancer.
How X-Ray Examination Works
When an x-ray examination is carried out, the machine will send a short wave of electromagnetic radiation to the body to scan the condition of the inside of the body. Radiation absorbed by each part of the body will be different. This is what will make the x-ray photos show different colors from white, gray, to black:
- If it hits metal or a solid body part such as bone, most of the x-ray particles are blocked. The results of the x-ray examination will appear white.
- If the x-ray involves muscle, fat, and fluid, the results of the x-ray examination will appear gray.
- The black color indicates that the x-ray has hit the air.
Is X-Ray Safe?
When taking pictures of the body by x-ray examination, radiation is indeed used. However, the amount or level of exposure is so small that it is considered safe for adults.
However, too often undergoing examinations that use x-rays has the potential to damage DNA in the body’s cells to increase the risk of cancer later in life, although the increased risk is relatively low. Compared to X-rays, exposure to x-ray radiation is higher on CT scans and fluoroscopy.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the risk of cancer from x-ray exposure is higher in:
- Patients who frequently perform medical imaging with large doses
- Patients with younger age
- Patient is female
X-ray examination is also declared not good for young children and fetuses in the womb, especially if the x-ray is done on the body part adjacent to the uterus.
This is because exposure to x-ray radiation has the risk of causing a miscarriage in early pregnancy or an increased risk of the baby being born with defects. Meanwhile, at the gestational age of more than 8 weeks, radiation exposure is at risk of causing children to be born with learning disabilities and intellectual problems. Therefore, pregnant women are advised not to be treated using x-rays, except in an emergency.
Sometimes when using x-rays, doctors will inject a contrast agent of iodine or barium into the patient’s body to improve image quality. Unfortunately, these dyes can cause some side effects such as itching, hives, dizziness, nausea, the risk of kidney problems, and the tongue feels a metallic sensation. In relatively rare cases, the dye can even cause severe reactions such as very low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock, acute kidney failure, or cardiac arrest.
If you have an x-ray and have a contrast agent inserted by your doctor, it is advisable to drink plenty of water afterward. This will help get rid of the contrast substance from the body. Don’t forget to tell your doctor if the area of the skin that was injected is red, painful, and swollen.
That’s why it’s important to consult a doctor before having an x-ray examination to make sure you have all the information you need.