X-rays are the oldest form of medical imaging. What is surprising is that the scientist who discovered X-rays, William Roentgen, didn’t even mean to discover them! He was experimenting with different light waves and ionizing radiation in 1895 and stumble upon what we know today as X-rays. He had no idea what he had discovered so he named the experiment “X” rays, like in math, X being an unknown variable.
If only Mr. Roentgen could have known the widespread effect that his discovery would have on so many different fields. Today we are discussing the many X-rays uses that we see and experience in everyday life.
Now, we all know that doctors and hospitals use X-rays. X-rays are beams of ionizing radiation that are sent toward the body and absorbed and then reflected back to the machine to form an image. The reason you only see bones when having an X-ray performed is because bones are denser than the tissues and organs surrounding them. These softer structures cannot absorb and reflect the X-rays back, so they aren’t seen. This is fine because there are procedures like CT scans and MRIs to examine those structures. However, on occasion doctors need a way to examine just the bones and X-rays are the best method. X-rays are used most often when doctors need to examine the bones of the body and check for breaks, fractures, deformities and other issues involving the skeleton.
Another kind of doctor that has X-ray uses are dentists. Because teeth are basically calcium, like bones, they can absorb enough of the X-ray in order to make an image. And dental X-rays can help with every kind of dental procedure from cavities to root canals to braces. Thanks to dental X-rays, we can see beyond the mouth and into the jawline and skull, allowing dentists to treat more than just one tooth at a time but actually see the entirety of mouth issues at once. This cuts down on number of infections, pulled teeth, and other dental nightmares.
Another common place you might not realize you are being exposed to X-ray uses is at the airport. Thanks to heightened security measures, airport scanners direct X-rays to travelers’ bodies in order to check for possible weapons or threats. Our luggage undergoes the same treatment. Because metal objects like guns or knives do have enough density to absorb and reflect X-rays, they appear when going through safety scanning systems. This technology keeps our airports and flight safe.
Another unexpected place to find X-rays uses? Fossils! That is right, fossils are bones that have managed to stand the test of time and they often undergo X-ray and MRI scans upon discovery. X-ray technology allows archaeologists to pull all kinds of fascinating and illuminating details about the way that creature, plant or object lived and died. By examining the bones of prehistoric skeletons we can discover everything from age to weight to ethnicity. Truly amazing!
X-ray uses are varied and far-reaching and we at Doctors Imaging hope that continuing research and technology will improve upon an invaluable service. At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, our X-rays do not even use the same kind of ionizing radiation that most hospitals and previous generations knew. Our X-ray capabilities are entirely digital allowing for the same high quality images without radiation.