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What Is a Digital X-Ray?

Doctor Using Digital Tablet Viewing Medical Scan

Just about anyone who has ever visited the dentist or had a broken bone has had an x-ray in the past. Digital x-rays are the next step in evolution for x-ray technology. They provide all of the ease and convenience of conventional x-rays for recognizing problems with bones, teeth, organs, and other body parts. However, they are even more effective than old-fashioned x-rays.

Why Are Digital X-Rays Used?

Digital x-rays can be used in any situation where problems with bone, teeth, or organs need to be diagnosed. To a lesser extent, they can also pick up your body fat, muscle, and even the air in your lungs! They produce images of the area of concern, allowing doctors to see various issues. Breaks, fractures, abnormal growths, and structural issues with certain organs can be pinpointed.

Digital x-rays are often used to narrow down the possible causes when a patient has pain not caused by obvious trauma such as an accident or injury. For example, these x-rays can zero in on joint damage caused by arthritis. Depending on the suspected problems, a doctor might wish to x-ray an area of the body distant from the pain or other issue.

Some of the most common issues an x-ray might diagnose or monitor include:

  • Various forms of cancer, including bone cancer
  • Tumors
  • Enlarged heart
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Pulmonary (lung) problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Infections

What Happens During a Digital X-Ray Exam

A digital x-ray is taken in a manner very similar to a standard x-ray. Although a digital x-ray uses much less radiation, the basic mechanisms behind the x-ray image are still the same. The patient is required to sit, stand, or lie down depending on the type of image needed.

No matter what kind of x-ray is necessary, the minimum amount of radiation is always used and only the area being imaged – such as the chest or mouth – is targeted. A plate that contains sophisticated x-ray sensors may be aligned with the area of interest. In other cases, patients may lie or sit on the plate while a larger camera, attached to a steel arm, is moved carefully over the body. No matter what type of procedure is used, it’s a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing and remove any metallic items.

Sometimes, a contrast dye is used to enhance the quality of the x-ray images. This might be taken in the form of a liquid, a direct injection, or an enema. Patients with gastrointestinal concerns will usually be asked to fast in advance of their x-ray procedure.

Benefits for Having a Digital X-Ray Exam

Digital radiography images tend to be clearer than those produced with other methods. As soon as an image is taken, it can be resized and “zoomed in” to focus on areas of concern. Images are sharper at any size and can be produced in seconds without having to wait for any processing. Plus, a digital x-ray exposes the patient to only a tiny fraction of the usual radiation.

All in all, digital x-rays are more convenient for both the patient and the doctor. Thanks to the ease with which they can be forwarded to other members of the care team, they are much less likely to be lost or misplaced. Speed means they can be retaken if necessary, and clarity makes it far easier to interpret them accurately and get the right diagnosis the first time.

Neighborhood Radiology Services is glad to offer the best in local digital x-ray services. To learn more or get started, contact us today! Fill out the form on this page to request an appointment or call 800-220-2220 to learn more.

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