While assessing whether cathode rays could permeate through glass, Rontgen spied a mysterious glow on a coated screen in his office. A nod to its mysterious nature, he dubbed this light “X-ray”, serving as a sort of placeholder until the real source of the rays was discovered. For the first time in history, doctors could see diseases in a new light (literally).
As it turns out, X-rays are not unlike light waves. They are both electromagnetic energy waves; however, X-rays travel at a much higher energy, making them invisible to the human eye. Because our skin and organs (soft tissue) cannot absorb these rays, they permeate through the body, allowing our bones to attract them and become perceptible on screen.
X-rays can seem a bit supernatural. After all, they expose the great mysteries of life and the things that might otherwise go unnoticed – or undiagnosed – in the case of medicine. According to the National Institutes of Health, X-rays can diagnose a plethora of maladies, from breast cancer (mammography) to broken bones. Offering the ability to perform quick diagnoses with instant results, digital X-rays take the guess work out of detection.
Thanks to this revolutionary technology, physicians can discover ailments in their premature stages, and in many cases, circumvent extreme or invasive surgeries. They also offer a window into the affected area prior to an operation, preventing surgeons from going into procedures “blindly.” According to Capt. Thomas Ohlhaber, U.S. Public Health Service, a physicist and deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prior to the advent of medical X-rays, surgeons would have to perform exploratory surgeries following a patient accident or injury.
Much like the graduation from polaroid to digital photography, digital X-rays end the “waiting game”, taking development time out of the equation. This allows doctors to retrieve information instantly, which can be extremely beneficial when a life is at stake. These digital images are also easily transferable – meaning they can be sent from one doctor to another when a referral or second opinion is required.
While the benefits prove plentiful, many people wonder if X-rays are safe. In essence, they are a form of radiation exposure – which can cause the type of cell mutations that lead to cancer growth. However, the level of exposure from digital X-rays is so miniscule, sources including Mayo Clinic maintain that the rewards far outweigh the risks. Plus, digital X-rays emit 70% less radiation than the traditional film variety. If you are pregnant, your doctor may suggest an alternative diagnostic method.
Aside from the detrimental health aspects of traditional X-rays, the procedure also leaves behind environmentally hazardous wastes such as lead foil and films that require proper and careful disposal. For this reason, many radiologists have chosen “greener” digital imaging in lieu of the traditional variety.
The Radiologists at Independent Imaging utilize state-of-the-art equipment such as GE’s digital flat panel detector, which produces crystal-clear images that are far superior to the film images captured in past years. They have several locations and no appointment is required for imaging, offering patients a convenient and reliable service they can count on.
With over 30 years of experience, Independent Imaging is Accredited by the American College of Radiology and is a common referral of physicians throughout the state of Florida. If you have questions, or would like to schedule an appointment for digital X-ray, call 561-795-5558.