Although most people associate X-rays with broken bones, this quick, painless form of diagnostic imaging is used to examine many parts of the body, including your lungs and digestive tract. Because X-rays are quick and easy, they’re often the go-to diagnostic imaging tool following trauma or in emergency situations. At CitiMed Comprehensive TBI Center in New York City’s Midtown Manhattan, board-certified radiologist Dr. Karl L. Hussman will offer a complete menu of diagnostic imaging services, including X-rays. We will be providing this services soon. Please book an appointment for our other services.
X-rays use a type of radiation called electromagnetic waves to produce detailed images of the structures inside your body. As these waves pass through your body, they’re absorbed in varying degrees depending on the density of the tissues that are absorbing them.
Bone tissue, which is dense, absorbs X-rays the most, so bones appear white in an X-ray image. Fat, muscle, and other soft tissues absorb less, so they appear gray, while the air in your lungs appears black.
For certain types of X-rays, a contrast medium such as iodine or barium may be injected into your body to enhance the detail on the images.
Although X-ray imaging is used to assess disorders and problems in many parts of the body, it’s most commonly used to evaluate conditions and injuries affecting the following:
Bone X-rays are typically used to diagnose fractures, bone infections, or joint dislocation. Usually, an X-ray can show such problems clearly enough that no further imaging is required. Bone X-rays may also be used to reveal or assess arthritis, bone cancer, and osteoporosis.
Chest X-rays are used to evaluate your lungs, heart, or chest wall. X-rays are often the quickest, easiest way to help diagnose chronic chest pain, a traumatic chest injury, shortness of breath, or a persistent cough. X-rays are also used to assess a variety of lung conditions, including pneumonia, emphysema, and cancer.
Abdominal X-rays may be used to assess conditions or trauma that affect your stomach, liver, intestines, or spleen. X-rays can help diagnose unexplained abdominal pain as well as digestive tract problems.
It’s not uncommon for patients to worry about the safety of X-rays because they expose your body to radiation, a type of energy that can cause the kind of cell mutations that lead to cancer. Although your sensitivity to radiation depends on a variety of factors, including your age and body size, most X-rays only use very small amounts of radiation. A standard chest X-ray, for example, emits about the same amount of radiation as you’re already exposed to from the environment over 10 days.
When you have an X-ray, sometimes you wear a lead apron to help protect certain parts of your body that aren’t being viewed. Radiation does not remain in your body following the procedure.