what is an Xray

Here at Family Medical Clinic in Soldotna, Alaska, we believe an X-ray can be an important part of your diagnosis and treatment plan. X-rays have been used for decades and are a common type of imaging test. It helps your Kenai peninsula doctor take a look at the inside of your body without having to rely on invasive surgery. It's a fast, painless test that's used for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating a variety of medical conditions.

X-ray Definition

An X-ray is a type of radiation referred to as electromagnetic waves. The beams used in an X-ray capture an image of the inside of your body and present your internal structures on an x ray photo in different shades of white and black.

The images are shades of black and white due to your tissues absorbing the radiation in different amounts. For instance, since bone calcium absorbs the X-ray the most, it displays your bones in white. Soft tissues absorb less and look gray, while your lungs look black because air absorbs the least.

You're given a contrast medium like barium or iodine in some types of X-ray tests to provide better detail on the image.  You wear a lead apron when you have an X-radiation done to protect certain body parts from the radiation. However, you're only exposed to a small amount of radiation during X- rays. Take a chest x-ray, for instance. It's equivalent to around the same amount of radiation you get naturally from the environment over a 10-day span.

Indication You Need an X-ray

There are several reasons you would need an X- ray examination. However, the most common reason is for the doctor to look inside your body in the least invasive way to see the condition of your bones or your lungs. This test is the easiest and quickest way for your physician to assess joint abnormalities, broken bones, spinal injuries, arthritis, and more.

Aside from diagnosing joint dislocations or broken bones, the doctor may take an X-ray photo to determine if specific bones are growing in correct alignment or if bony fragments following a fracture treatment have stabilized.

Some indications you need xrays include:

  • Fractures or Broken Bones.  Without the aid of an x-ray, determining if or when you have a fracture is xray uses broken bonesalmost impossible. You have layers of muscle, skin, and fat in your body. You may think that if you can use a bone, it's not fractured or broken; for instance if you can walk on it. However, pain is usually the only thing that keeps you from using a broken arm or walking on a broken leg. Without pain, you may not even know it's broken.
  • Bruising.  When you get injured, the discoloration shows that your blood escaped from your blood vessels showing there was damage to the underneath tissue. Any tissue damage can lead to bruising, including a broken bone leaking blood. And, the larger the bruised area is the more likely you have deep (possibly bone deep) damage.
  • Swelling.  When you're injured, it can cause fluid and in some cases, blood to leak from your soft tissues like your skin, fat, and muscle. Your soft tissues begin to swell from this extra fluid and become hard or taut.
  • Deformity. A deformity is one of the best indicators you have a fracture. When your leg or arm bends in a position it's not meant to, it's a good indication you have a bone that is out of place.


Uses for X-rays

Your physician may order x-rays to:

  • Monitor a disease you have and its progression.

  • Examine an area that you find painful.

  • Assess how a treatment is working.

X-ray technology in used in certain medical procedures and to examine specific areas of the body.



X-ray technology is used in a number of procedures and examinations to diagnose and treat conditions. Some procedures it's used in include:

  • Mammography: This is a radiograph of the breast to detect and diagnosis cancer.

  • X-Ray Radiography: This is used to detect certain tumors and abnormal masses, bone fractures, pneumonia, calcifications, dental issues, foreign objects and some types of injuries.

  • Fluoroscopy: This uses a fluorescent screen and x-rays to view diagnostic processes or get real-time images of different movements in your body.

In some cases, X-rays are used to assist doctors in the placement of medical devices or tubes within the body.


Parts of the Body:

The doctor uses X-ray photo technology to examine various parts of your body. You may need in certain conditions including:

Teeth and Bones

  • Infections and Fractures: Infections and fractures in your teeth and bones are very clear on these images.

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is detected with an X-ray of your joints and can help your physician see if the condition is getting worse.

  • Osteoporosis: Images can help doctors measure your bone density with conditions like osteoporosis.

  • Dental Decay: The dentist can check for teeth cavities with X-rays.

  • Bone Cancer: An X-ray can let the dentist know if you have bone tumors.


Chest X-Ray

chest xray.jpg

  • Lung Conditions or Infections: X-rays show different conditions like tuberculosis, pneumonia or lung cancer.

  • Enlarged Heart: These images show congestive heart failure clearly

  • Breast Cancer: Breast tissue is examined with this specific X-ra test

  • Blocked Blood Vessels: Injection of iodine and x-rays make certain parts of your circulatory system visible.



  • Swallowed Objects: These images can help the doctor see the location of a swallowed object

  • Digestive Tract Problems: X-rays and Barium (contrast material) can reveal digestive system problems

There is little preparation needed to have an Xray done. You wear a hospital gown and remove any metal objects and jewelry before you have the test done.

If you're receiving contrast during your x-ray exam, the doctor will give it to you by enema, injection, mouth or catheter (thin tube) into your body in a specific area.

During your exam, you'll either stand next to an X-ray machine or lie down on a table. You need to remain still and hold your breath for a few seconds. The technologist then activates the machine and takes multiple images from various angles. They may reposition you and take more images. Although there is some radiation, you won't feel it.

The technologist records your X-ray images digitally or on film, and a radiologist or physician analyzes the results of your test. Your Family Medical Clinic in Soldotna uses the results to devise a treatment plan. In an emergency situation, the results of your X-ray are received right. It may take a day or two to receive your X-ray results in a non-emergency situation. Your Kenai peninsula doctor will explain what your X-ray results mean and what course of treatment you’ll need.

An MRI or CT scan may be used in lieu of or in addition to X-rays for other types of injuries or conditions, including brain and spinal cord abnormalities, cysts, and tumors, signs of heart disease, back pain, joint abnormalities, and more.


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