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How Doctors & X-rays Work Together

Whether you’ve suffered a recent injury, or an internal structure needs to be further examined, X-rays have become a fundamental way that doctors can best diagnose and treat an issue with a patient’s body. But what are radiologists looking for when they see an X-ray? Is it the dark circles, white splotches or grey matter? Let’s find out.

What is a Radiologist?

To start, a radiologist is a specially trained physician who can interoperate and understand images that come from an X-ray machine.  First, films are produced by the technician and are developed and reviewed before being submitted for interpretation. After an initial analysis, the technician may decide if more images from different angles are required.

After the films have been reviewed by the technician, a detailed report is created which is then sent to the doctor. The films are placed under a light source for a better visual on the shadows on the x-ray. This light source is usually a metal box covered in white plastic.

However, due to recent advancements in technology, this method has been largely replaced by the use of computers. The need for physical films is now almost obsolete, as the images, once taken, are uploaded to special software that helps the doctor interpret the results within minutes after the image is taken. This is what makes X-rays one of the fastest and easiest methods of medical imaging available. 

When is an X-ray Ordered?

A doctor may order an X-ray if a patient is showing shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pains. These are just some of the more common reasons why an X-ray might be ordered, but in reality there’s many reasons why a doctor might ask for an X-ray. Sometimes an X-ray will be performed before surgery to see if any underlying issues are present before the operation.

What is Shown on an X-ray?

A regular chest X-ray will show the shape of the chest wall, as well as major chest structures. There’s two shades on an X-ray: white and dark shadows. The white shadows show solid masses, like rib cages, vertebrae, the heart, aorta, and shoulder bones. The dark background is of air-filled lungs.

What is Considered an Abnormality? 

Combined with other clinical data, such as physical examinations and patient history, a chest X-ray will look for excessive fluid, fluid around the lungs, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, cysts, and cancer tissue. X-rays can also detect issues with the heart, such as fluid collecting, an enlarged heart, heart failure, or other abnormalities. Certain bone structures of the chest that have been damaged or other bone issues can also be found.

If you think you may need a walk-in X-ray, or would like to find out more about X-rays in Calgary & Edmonton, contact Canada Diagnostic Centres today for more info!