X-rays are among the most well-known medical imaging exams. Other types of medical imaging exams use X-ray technology, such as CT scans, but standard bone X-rays most frequently come to mind when people hear this term. X-rays are often performed at hospitals, such as when a patient arrives at the ER with injuries, but some clinics lack on-site imaging capabilities and may refer their patients to an imaging center instead. A patient may also be referred to an imaging center near San Antonio for non-emergent X-rays .
X-rays can depict bones well, but not other structures.
X-rays are exceptionally accurate for depicting the details of the bone structure. However, they aren’t terribly useful for evaluating the soft tissues of the body, which include the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. This is why orthopedic specialists might request an MRI instead of a bone X-ray. An MRI allows a better examination of the various structures of the joints and spine. MRIs are also useful for detecting very tiny bone contusions that might not show up on X-rays.
Bone X-rays are helpful for more than diagnosing fractures.
Most people undergo multiple X-rays during the course of their lifetime. This technology is routinely used in dental offices, for instance, where it helps dentists find tooth decay. But in addition to its dental uses and its helpfulness in diagnosing bone fractures, X-rays are useful for other reasons. X-rays allow doctors to evaluate patients suspected of having arthritis, bone cancer, bone infections, and bone spurs. They are frequently used by orthopedic surgeons who are planning surgeries, such as spinal fusions and joint replacements.
X-rays are safe and painless.
Most medical procedures do carry certain risks, and X-rays are no exception. However, the risk associated with the radiation exposure is quite low, especially these days. That’s because state-of-the-art imaging centers use modern X-ray equipment that enables the radiologists to use the lowest possible dose of radiation for each X-ray. Furthermore, the part of the patient’s body that is not being examined is covered with a lead apron to shield against radiation. The risk is greater for women who are pregnant, which is why radiologists routinely ask female patients if they are pregnant or could be pregnant.