Diagnostic X-Ray

Definition - What does Diagnostic X-Ray mean?

A diagnostic X-ray is an image of the inside of the body captured using electromagnetic radiation. Diagnostic X-rays are called this because they are used by medical professionals to assist in the identification and diagnosis of medical conditions. X-ray technology is used to create images called radiographs that can show blockages, tumors, broken bones, or other conditions inside the body.

WorkplaceTesting explains Diagnostic X-Ray

An X-ray uses electromagnetic radiation to create images of the interior of an object. When used to capture images of the human body for the purposes of diagnosis, the result is a diagnostic X-ray. An X-ray device creates an image by passing electromagnetic energy through the body. Different body tissues absorb the energy from the X-ray in differing amounts. For instance, bones absorb more of the X-ray's energy than soft tissue.

Additionally, dyes or other contrast media may be introduced into the patient's body to allow for greater image contrast. A patient might be asked to drink a barium solution to facilitate the capture of images from his or her upper digestive system, or contrast dye might be injected into the space between joints and ligaments to attain a more detailed picture.

The electromagnetic energy that is not absorbed by the body during an X-ray is collected by an X-ray detector and presented in a radiograph. Radiographs may use film or digital methods to represent the results of a diagnostic X-ray. When represented in a radiograph, the areas where the most X-ray energy was able to pass through the body will appear black. Areas with thick tissue masses or bones will appear in shades of gray to white.

A diagnostic X-ray uses ionizing radiation which may be harmful to the human body in higher concentrations. However, in most instances the benefits of early diagnosis outweigh the risks of exposure to this radiation. Prolonged or repetitive exposure to X-ray radiation may be harmful. Thus, it is important that patients discuss their medical history, including any previous X-rays or other radiation exposure, with their doctor before having an X-ray taken.

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