What are X-rays? X-rays are electro-magnetic radiations that are produced by special machines called X-ray machines. These cannot be seen, felt or heard.
How do X-rays work? Chest X-rayDifferent parts of the body behave differently with X-rays. While doing a chest X-ray , structures such as bone absorb X-rays, whereas air in the lungs lets all X-rays pass through. Thus, when X-rays pass through the body, when they come out, they have different strengths, depending on what parts of the body they have passed through. When these X-rays hit a film (like a photographic film), that film gets exposed depending upon this variation. Like a photographic film, this special film also needs to be developed, before we can see the final picture.
Where are X-rays useful? X-rays have been used to view all parts of the body. Specifically, they are required for chest, all bones, joints and abdomen.
Are there any dangers? Since X-rays involve radiation, there is a theoretical risk, though none in practice. In women who are pregnant, X-rays should be performed only after weighing all the risks.
What are the dyes used with X-rays? Sometimes, artificial dyes are used to improve our ability to see internal structures. The common dyes used are either barium containing (barium sulphate) or iodine dyes. Barium sulphate is used for all barium examinations to study the stomach and intestines. Iodine dyes are usually injected in the veins to study the kidneys or during angiography, etc.
Who is qualified to report X-rays? Only radiologists are trained to read X-rays and all X-rays should carry a radiologist's report. Other physicians and non-radiology centres may also perform X-rays but they are usually not qualified. Before going for an X-ray, ask the centre whether it will be done under the supervision of a radiologist or not.