The word “x-ray” is an acronym for “energetic high-frequency electromagnetic radiation.” Electromagnetic radiation has the ability to penetrate solids, making it an easy and useful way to create images of the inside of the human body.
Your local urgent care center in Houston will most likely have an x-ray machine available onsite as it is one of the most basic and widely available noninvasive diagnostic tools. Most patients have experienced an X-ray at some point in their lives or they know someone who has.
An X-ray machine will send x-ray particles through the body. The particles bounce off solids inside the body, and in the recorded image, the x-ray image will show in black-and-white. Any materials that are not black are read as some type of solid mass. White indicates bones, metal, and, occasionally, contrast. Gray usually indicates internal organs.
What are X-rays for?
Most people know that x-rays are useful for diagnosing bone fractures. The nurse or radiation technician will position you or the body part that needs imaging appropriately to get an accurate view of the site in question.
X-rays can also diagnose the following conditions based on the office conducting the imaging:
-Oral health problems such as tooth decay and impacted teeth
-Lung trauma, namely pneumonia and TB (tuberculosis)
-Calcification inside of organs
-Dilated aorta (a large vessel in the heart)
-COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder)
However, most urgent care centers use their x-ray facilities for the diagnosis of bone fractures, pneumonia, and other minor emergencies.
Who should NOT get an x-ray?
It is vital that women who are pregnant or breast feeding tell their physician. Studies have shown that even slight exposure to radiation is statistically linked to high child cancer rates. Additionally, people who wear metal jewelry or contain piercings should remove their jewelry prior to the imaging exam.
For healthy individuals, your physician, nurse, and radiation technologist will calculate your imaging session to ensure that you are exposed to the absolute minimum amount of radiation exposure.
-Carolyn A. Medrano