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X-ray imaging is an imaging technique using X-rays, which can penetrate the soft tissues of the body and remain in dense tissues. This is what makes X-ray indispensable for bone examination.

In addition, presence of gas or liquid in body cavities (for example, air in the lungs or intestines, as well as pus) affects the ability of X-rays to pass through tissues, and the nature of these changes helps to make a diagnosis.

Thus X-ray imaging is a routine examination in diagnostics of diseases and injuries of internal organs and the musculoskeletal system. It is prescribed in case of different injuries, suspected pneumonia, neoplasms, intestinal obstruction, and much more.

The investigation is performed in a separate screened room. The patient can stand, sit or lie down depending on the area to be examined. Then the doctor directs the tube of the X-ray machine to the part of the body under examination and places the cassette with the film under it strictly perpendicular to the direction of X-ray.

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Types of X-ray

Sometimes (e.g., if the patient has kidney stones) X-ray with contrast can be performed. In this case, the patient lies down on the table, then the contrast liquor gets administered intravenously, and afterwards a series of pictures is taken with an interval of seven minutes. During the procedure, the medical specialist monitors the accumulation of the liquor in the kidneys, its filtering and discharge through the renal ducts. Any defect of renal duct filling points at the presence of a stone.

Another type of study with contrast is hysterosalpingography. This is a study of the patency of the fallopian tubes, which is done in preparation for IVF and to diagnose infertility. In this case a non-hazardous liquor is introduced into a woman’s uterine cavity through its cervix, then a series of pictures is taken at short intervals. The specialist monitors how the liquor fills the fallopian tubes and exits into the abdomen cavity.

X-ray radiation is considered harmful to the body, but nowadays the picture is taken very quickly, and the radiation exposure is extremely low, so the harm is minimized.

For example, if we assume that one X-ray is 0.8 mSv, and the maximum permissible dose of radiation per year is 150 mSv, then it turns out that X-ray can be done 187 times per year without significant impact on one’s health. X-ray does not harm children either.

What is important to consider during pregnancy?

During pregnancy it is necessary to take into account what kind of diagnostics is performed and whether its cessity outweighs the possible harm. You should consult your doctor about it.

In some cases, ultrasound can be deemed as an alternative to X-ray (for example, mammography and ultrasound mutually complement each other). In other cases, MRI can be performed instead of X-ray imaging. However, this method is much more expensive and has its own features.

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