X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to visible light. Unlike light, however, x-rays have higher energy and can pass through most objects, including the body. Medical x-rays are used to generate images of tissues and structures inside the body. If x-rays travelling through the body also pass through an x-ray detector on the other side of the patient, an image will be formed that represents the “shadows” formed by the objects inside the body.
X-ray technology is used to examine many parts of the body.
Bones and teeth
• Fractures and infections. In most cases, fractures and infections in bones and teeth show up clearly on X-rays.
• Arthritis. X-rays of your joints can reveal evidence of arthritis. X-rays taken over the years can help your doctor determine if your arthritis is worsening.
• Dental decay. Dentists use X-rays to check for cavities in your teeth.
• Osteoporosis. Special types of X-ray tests can measure your bone density.
• Bone cancer. X-rays can reveal bone tumors
• Lung infections or conditions. Evidence of pneumonia, tuberculosis or lung cancer can show up on chest X-rays.
• Breast cancer. Mammography is a special type of X-ray test used to examine breast tissue.
• Enlarged heart. This sign of congestive heart failure shows up clearly on X-rays.
• Blocked blood vessels. Injecting a contrast material that contains iodine can help highlight sections of your circulatory system to make them visible on X-rays.
• Digestive tract problems. Barium, a contrast medium delivered in a drink or an enema, can help reveal problems in your digestive system.
• Swallowed items. If your child has swallowed something such as a key or a coin, an X-ray can show the location of that object.
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