Digital X-rays are a sophisticated type of X-ray imaging in which digital sensors substitute for traditional photographic film. All X-rays make use of electromagnetic waves to produce images of internal parts of the body. For most purposes, digital X-rays are an improvement over conventional X-rays because they are more efficient and provide more easily transferable computer images of bones and other internal organs. With digital X-rays, the images are available immediately for viewing, with no development step in between, eliminating the need for photo development, transport of the film, and additional transport of the film to the radiologist.
The Purpose of a Digital X-ray
Digital X-rays are used for a variety of diagnoses, including discovering the cause of unexplained pain or other symptoms of injury or disease. Conditions often diagnosed through the use of digital X-rays include:
- Bone injuries and disorders such as arthritis or osteoporosis
- Tooth decay
- Problems affecting the digestive tract
Digital X-rays can be used in conjunction with orthopedic surgery to ensure that a fracture or other injury has been properly set. Such X-rays are also invaluable in the detecting abnormalities in the heart and lungs. If further testing is required, X-rays may be followed up with other diagnostic imaging techniques, such as MRI, PET, CT scans or ultrasound.
Benefits of a Digital X-Ray
The administration of digital X-rays is similar to that of conventional X-Rays except that the digital process uses a special imaging detector instead of a camera with film. This is the same technique used for digital cameras. Digital X-ray images can be viewed immediately on a computer screen. Doctors can magnify the image to see details and carefully examine any abnormalities. This ensures the most accurate diagnosis of a wide range of conditions. Images can also be rotated, printed, and shared electronically to ensure effective diagnostic comparison and consultation. In addition, digital X-rays expose patients to less radiation than conventional X-rays.
The Digital X-Ray Procedure
X-rays are typically performed at any medical or dental practice, hospital, or emergency room. Depending on the purpose of the X-ray, it can last anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. During the X-ray procedure, the patient will be properly positioned under the digital X-ray machine to ensure accurate imaging of the affected area. This process may be repeated for additional views of the region and the patient may be instructed to change positions. There is no preparation necessary for a digital X-ray and the patient may resume normal activities immediately afterwards.