Digital radiography is a type of X-ray imaging in which image sensors are used in place of traditional film – much like the difference between film and digital cameras. The images themselves are comparable to traditional X-rays, but digital radiography saves time by avoiding chemical film processing. Just as importantly, digital X-rays require less radiation than traditional X-rays. Like other X-ray techniques, digital radiography is safe, painless and noninvasive.
What to Expect During Your Digital X-Ray
Taking a digital x-ray is much like taking a traditional x-ray, and if you’ve ever broken a bone, you’re likely familiar with the process. A technologist will help you onto an exam table or chair, depending upon the positions required for the image. A plastic plate called a film cassette will be placed directly under or behind the area of the body to be imaged, and you’ll be asked to hold still for a few minutes while the x-ray is being taken. This process will be repeated for additional views, and the whole procedure will likely take 15 minutes or less.
Frequently Asked Questions
Like radio waves, microwaves and even visible light, x-rays are electromagnetic waves. Because they can pass through some substances but not others, they have proven invaluable in medical imaging. When x-rays are transmitted onto a body part, they pass straight through some tissues while absorbing into others. This phenomenon produces the tell-tale, white-on-black images that display bones so well.
X-rays are most commonly used to view bones and assess fractures. Bones absorb x-rays, while muscle, skin and other soft tissues do not, allowing for fine detail and stark contrast.
With the right films and developing techniques, x-rays can also be used to find tumors, view internal organs and observe air-filled cavities such as the lungs. Some of these applications can be enhanced with a contrast dye, which absorbs x-rays and helps certain tissues to stand out on film.
X-ray exams are safe, quick and pain-free. When you arrive, you’ll first change into a medical gown free of zippers and metallic snaps, and your technologist will escort you into an exam room.
Depending upon the body part being imaged, you will then sit, stand or lie on a table near the x-ray device. Your technologist will position the device to take the most accurate images possible, most likely from several angles. Regardless of the number of images, however, you won’t feel a thing.
Once your initial images are taken, your technologist will quickly review them to determine whether any re-shoots or different positions are required. Once they’ve obtained the images necessary for an accurate, high-quality study, you’ll be free to leave.
X-ray exams range from 5 to 25 minutes, depending upon the body part and number of images required. One of our radiologists will interpret the images as soon as they’re ready, and their report will be sent to your physician within 24 hours.
Very little preparation is required for an x-ray exam. You may choose to avoid clothing with zippers and snaps, but if your clothes have any metal, you’ll be able to change into a medical gown before your exam. If your exam requires the use of a contrast dye, we will provide additional instructions several days prior to your appointment.
If you are pregnant, or if there is a possibility that you are pregnant, it is important to tell your physician and technologist before your exam.