X-rays were discovered by William Roentgen, a German physicist, in 1895. The Mayo Clinic says that x-rays pass through the body and are absorbed in differing amounts according to the density of material through which they pass. X-rays have benefited physicians’ diagnosis since 1896. X-ray analysis, a form of medical imaging, helps physicians to accurately diagnose or confirm a patient’s condition.
X-rays, carried by sub-atomic photo particles, are a form of electromagnetic radiation. Similar to the visible spectrum of light, X-rays are either absorbed by or reflected from a material’s subatomic structure. X-rays’ smaller wavelength and greater energy level place them higher on the electromagnetic scale than visible light waves.
How X-Ray Machines Work
X-ray machines are comprised of anodes and cathodes which produce beams of electrons. Cathodes emit electrons into the vacuum tube. Then, anodes collect collect electrodes in order to establish the electrical current’s passage through the tube. High-volt levels are used to stimulate the electrons, and the flow pulses from one microsecond to a full second until the needed amount of x-rays are produced.
The power source of the machine actually controls the level of penetration of the x-rays. Therefore, the resulting image or contrast of the image is dependent upon the electric current and exposure period. The x-ray machine requires a high voltage source of power, commonly between thirty to one hundred fifty kilovolts (kV) or dependent upon the type of image being taken with the x-ray machine.
These x-ray beams are pointed towards a patient’s individual body parts to be analyzed. X-rays must pass through soft tissues but reflect from hard or dense tissues, such as bones. Vacuum tubes in the machine work by ionization of radiation in shorter than ultraviolet light spectrum wavelengths.
The technician captures the projection image on film or a digital x-ray receiver. Physicians, researchers, and scientists use as independent x-rays or as part of tomographic technologies, e.g. computer tomography-CT scan, which create two-dimensional images.
Physicians use x-rays to diagnose and analyze teeth and bones. They may be used to identify cancerous masses or lesions and other soft tissue problems. Doctors use x-ray images to diagnose and treat fractures or structural problems of the teeth.
In combination with tomography, x-rays are useful in the diagnosis of tumors or defects of the bones. X-rays are also useful to the technician engaged in guiding other medical equipment, such as a needle, into the patient’s tissues.