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The Fascinating New Technology: Digital X-Rays

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Everyone has heard of and most people have no doubt experienced an X-ray, whether it was to take images of their teeth at the dentist’s office or images of a broken bone or some other medical condition. Digital X-ray imaging is an advancement of the old two dimensional X-rays most people remember.

What is a Digital X-ray?

A digital X-ray is a technology that uses sensors as opposed to film, which was and is the case in traditional X-ray. In this it is much like the difference between a digital camera and a camera that uses film. With a digital X-ray, the image can be seen right away and does not need to be sent to a laboratory or a dark room for processing.

Besides speed, one other benefit of a digital X-ray is that it does not subject the patient to as much radiation. Digital processing also allows for a sharper image and can compensate for under or over-exposures.

The process can utilize two kinds of image capture devices. One is the high-density line scan detector, and the other is a flat panel detector. The flat panel detector is further divided into indirect flat panel detector and direct flat panel detector. All three of these detectors use elements or compounds such as cesium bromide phosphor or amorphous selenium to capture the images.

How Are Digital X-Rays Used?

The digital X-ray is used much like a traditional X-ray. It finds bone fractures, internal injuries, infections and foreign objects in the body. During the procedure, the patient either lies on a treatment table or stands near a cassette holder. The X-ray is then operated by a technician who stands behind a barrier. The X-ray session lasts from 10 minutes to a half an hour.

How Are Digital X-rays Different From a CT Scan?

A CT scan, or computer tomography scan also uses X-rays, but in this case the patient lies on a table that is slid into a donut shaped tube. This allows the beam of photons to rotate around the patient and take images of the body in slices. These slices give the doctor much more information about the patient than a regular X-ray or even a digital X-ray, because these technologies do not pick up soft tissue well. Therefore, a doctor would use a CT scan to diagnose problems inside internal organs or blood vessels. Like the digital X-ray, the CT scan relies on detectors instead of film.

The digital X-ray is a safe, effective and efficient way to diagnose certain problems with a patient, especially when it comes to problems with their bones and other hard material in the body.

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