The Many Medical (and Other Interesting) X-Ray Uses

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.

Want to schedule your X-ray at Doctors Imaging, you can call our office at 504-833-8111 or you can fill out our Book an Appointment feature or Request a Quote for your X-ray procedure online!

MRI of the Spine May Help You & the Doctors Treating Your Pain

Since the spine is central in all forms of movement, posture, even resting positions require the use of the spine, spinal pain can one of the most debilitating kinds of pain. When you are having spinal difficulties or pain, life can just slow down. Some can’t move, work or relax without the presence of pain. Understanding the reason behind this kind of spine pain can be the key to getting your life and activities back.

There are several options for those with spinal pain: medication, physical therapy, massage therapy, exercise, and surgery but if you don’t get to the reason behind your spinal pain, you might just be treating the symptoms. The advanced technology of MRIs and other forms of medical imaging could help unlock the cause behind spinal pain.

If you are complaining to your doctor about persistent spinal pain that is interfering in your daily life, they will likely recommend some medical imaging tests in order to confirm a diagnosis.

A spinal X-ray will likely be the first recommended procedure to rule out any structural changes or abnormalities. X-rays are used when examining bone structure, density and alignment. X-rays are beams of ionizing radiation directed at the body. Because bones are denser and sometimes bigger than organs and soft tissues, they are able to absorb more of the X-rays and reflect a clearer image. One of the most common sources of spinal pain are issues like herniated (slipped) discs, bulging discs, and spinal sprains. Beyond that, most spinal injuries are the result of accidents, violence or medical conditions like scoliosis or arthritis. X-rays are totally painless and can provide a basis of reference for any skeletal problem or condition that might be causing you pain.

If a spinal X-ray proves to be inconclusive at finding a reason behind your back pain, a spinal MRI would be the next step. There are limitations with what X-rays can uncover because they can only image the skeleton. MRIs are better at imaging the musculoskeletal system, meaning to go beyond the bone structure and into the soft tissues, nerves and muscles surrounding your spine that could be equal players in your spinal pain. The body’s movements depend on the cooperation between all of these systems along with the spine to provide normal, healthy function.

Scheduling a spinal MRI is a helpful practice when there is a need to examine diseased tissue of the spine, pinched and inflamed nerves, monitoring spinal fusion surgery, infections and the possibility of tumors. MRI technology uses the power of magnetic field along with computer technology to create images. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, there is no radiation involved in an MRI. By combining both an X-ray technology and MRI capabilities, doctors can cover most of the bases when it comes to discovering the cause of spinal pain.

Once you know the cause of your back pain, you can begin configuring a treatment plan with your doctor. Having to live with back pain can decrease your quality of life, so do what is possible to find a solution to your back pain. If you are worried about the cost of medical imaging in regards to your spinal pain, consider coming to Doctors Imaging for your procedures. We accept multiple insurance plans and are open to creating payment plans for those patients that do not currently have insurance. We are even open on Saturdays for those spinal MRI patients that cannot make an appointment during our weekday hours.

If you have more questions about how medical imaging can help to increase your quality of life regarding your back pain, please check out our X-ray Service Page or our MRI Service Page for more information. You can also call our offices at 504-833-8111 Monday through Friday to speak with a representative from Doctors Imaging about scheduling your appointment.

Avoiding Bone Cancer and Maintaining Bone Density

Our bones are our foundation and yet so many forget their importance. Despite their high importance to the body, bones can be fragile. They can be easily fractured, broken, moved out of place and can lose their density with age, disease and lifestyle choices. One major concern for the bones is the development of bone cancer.

Bone cancer is not a common cancer. Bone cancer affects about 3,000 people a year but if caught early enough and the patient does not have other health concerns, the five year survival rate for bone cancer is about 70%. Cancer can begin in almost any bone which means that having immediate check-ins with your doctors and X-rays where you have symptoms is the best way to make sure that you do not have to suffer through advanced bone cancer.

Bone density is another major concern for doctors because so many people participate in density-depleting activities and do not give their bone health the attention they deserve. Your bones are the foundation for your body, what you use to move and function in our daily lives. Sure lots of people know that calcium is good for your bones. But did you know that your body stops acquiring calcium after 30 years of age? And for women this can occur even earlier and have a higher effect because of breast-feeding. Smoking cigarettes not only destroys your lungs but it eradicates much of the calcium out of your bones. Excessive drinking is also disruptive to the calcium in your bones as well as high consumptions of soft drinks.

One of the best things you can do to promote bone health is physical exercise along with drinking milk or taking an everyday calcium supplement. Another great way to keep your bones in tip-top shape is focusing on your nutrition. Foods like yogurt, broccoli and spinach are all great for building strong bones and maintaining as much calcium as possible. Avoid soft drinks and energy drinks as well. Excessive caffeine can be detrimental to bone health. Sodas contain high levels of phosphate which binds to calcium in the digestive tract and reduces the amount of much-needed calcium that is absorbed. Then calcium is released into the bloodstream to balance the amount of acid caused by phosphates in the bloodstream.

Bone health is a concern for both men and women. Because the body reaches it maximum bone density in the mid to late 20s, once that time has passed it becomes much more difficult to incorporate calcium back into the bones. Women begin losing bone mass after menopause has begun at a fast rate and because men have more of the hormone testosterone so they also begin losing bone mass but  later. Testosterone can be damaging to the body, especially to bone density, which is why men who take testosterone supplements should be very aware of the potential risks both now and in the future.

Keeping your bones healthy should be one of your highest concerns, you are going to need them for a long, long time. So be sure that you pay attention to your nutrition, lifestyle choices and get X-rays performed if you are concerned about bone cancer or your bone density.

There is no need to set up a specific appointment if you just need an X-ray. Just come by with your doctor’s order. You can visit the X-ray Services Page of Doctors Imaging or you can call our offices at 504-833-8111.