How X-Rays Help & What We Use Them For
When something happens inside your body like unknown pain or a possible broken bone, doctors need to see inside to figure out what might be the problem. While doctors have many special skills, X-ray eyes are still not one of them (maybe one day). Thus, they send patients off the X-ray department for images that go more than skin-deep.
Depending on the area of the body where the doctor is focusing, there are different types of X-rays that can reveal insight they need.
X-rays are not ordered simply for broken bones. Other reasons a doctor may require a patient to have an X-ray include:
- Locating a swallowed item: Like when your toddler decides to eat a penny.
- Showing an infection: Coughing up a lung because of bronchitis or pneumonia?
- Ruling out a growth: “It’s not a tumor.”
An X-ray by any other name…
An X-ray is noninvasive (or minimally invasive) process – which means no cutting into you! — and it is often called many other names at the doctor’s office. If you hear any of these, they still are considered an X-ray:
- Angiography: If a patient is experiencing chest pain, this type of X-ray may be ordered. An injection of contrast allows the arteries of the heart to be viewed and a doctor can see if there is an obstruction.
- Barium X-rays: Before these X-rays can be taken, a chalky substance called barium must be ingested or given as an enema. Yes, it will taste yucky or feel uncomfortable, but it helps the process. Upper Gastrointestinal X-rays require the patient to drink or take a solid portion of barium. Physicians can then look to find the possible cause of esophageal or abdominal pain. For the Lower Gastrointestinal tract, an X-ray may reveal blockage, intestinal twisting or colon cancer.
- (Computed axial tomography) CAT scan: This test is actually multiple X-rays taken from different angles. The very cool result is a three-dimensional view of your insides. Doctors usually ask for a CAT scan when they want a better look.
- DEXA scan: Patients don’t know it by this name, but instead as a bone density scan. Doctors typically order these as they screen a patient for osteoporosis.
- Intravenous pyelography (IVP): You say it hurts when you pee? Then you’ll probably get this done. When kidney stones or an enlarged prostate are suspected, these X-rays show the urinary tract.
- Mammography: Women may not realize it, but those uncomfortable boob-squishing mammograms are actually x-rays. They help doctors diagnose cysts, fibroids and cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women have their first mammogram at age 40. This helps establish a baseline to measure future issues against and see possible changes.
You might be a little freaked out by the big lead apron you’ll have to wear, but don’t be scared. X-rays are quickly done and provide valuable information for doctors that help them find ways help you feel better. And until X-ray vision becomes a real thing, this is the best way to see right through you. The good news for you is that Innovative Express Care has a full-service X-ray machine on-site as part of our urgent care services! Which means we don’t have to send you anywhere. Also, we have board certified radiologists read the films within 10 minutes!
Photo Source: Rahim Packir Saibo