What is Bone Radiography?
Radiography, or an x-ray, as it is most commonly known, is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. Discovered more than a century ago, x-rays can produce diagnostic images of the human body on film or digitally on a computer screen.
X-ray imaging is the fastest and easiest way for a physician to view and assess broken bones. At least two images (from different angles) are taken and often three images are needed if the problem is around a joint (knee, elbow or wrist). X-rays also play a key role in guiding orthopedic surgery and in the treatment of sports-related injuries. X-ray may uncover more advanced forms of cancer in bones, although early screening for cancer findings requires other methods.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Probably the most common use of bone radiographs is to assist the physician in identifying and treating fractures. Images of the injury can show even very fine hairline fractures or bone chips, while images produced after treatment ensure that a fracture has been properly aligned and stabilized for healing. Bone x-rays are essential tools in orthopedic surgery, such as spinal repair, joint replacements or fracture reductions.
X-ray images can be used to diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative diseases such as arthritis. They also play an important role in the detection and diagnosis of cancer, although usually computed tomography (CT) or MRI is better at defining the extent and the nature of a suspected cancer. On regular x-rays severe osteoporosis can be visible, but bone density determination for early loss of bone mineral is usually done on specialized, more sensitive equipment.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
What does the x-ray equipment look like?
How does the procedure work?
How is the procedure performed?
When your x-rays are completed you will be asked to wait until the technologist checks the images for adequate exposure and motion.
What will I experience during the x-ray procedure?
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
What are the benefits vs. risks?
- X-ray imaging is useful to diagnose bone injury and disease, such as fractures, bone infections, arthritis and cancer.
- Because x-ray imaging is fast and easy, it is particularly useful in emergency diagnosis and treatment.
- X-ray equipment is relatively inexpensive and widely available in physician offices, ambulatory care centers, nursing homes and other locations, making it convenient for both patients and physicians.
- X-rays are a type of invisible electromagnetic radiation and create no sensation when they pass through the body. Modern x-ray techniques use only a fraction of the x-ray dose that was required in the early days of radiology.
- Women should always inform their doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
- During a single x-ray exposure, a patient is exposed to approximately 20 milliroentgens of radiation. To put this into perspective, we are all exposed to approximately 100 milliroentgens of radiation each year from sources like the ultraviolet rays of the sun and small traces of radioactive isotopes, such as uranium found in soil.
Radiation risks are further minimized by:
- The use of high-speed x-ray film that requires only very small amounts of radiation to produce an optimal image.
- Technique standards established by national and international guidelines that have been designed and are continually reviewed by national and international radiology protection councils.
- Modern, state-of-the-art x-ray systems (including mammography systems, angiographic equipment, labs and CT scanners) that have very tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant filtration and x-ray dose control methods. Scatter or stray radiation is minimized and those parts of a patient’s body not being imaged receive minimal exposure.