Traditional X-rays are film-based, and they’re the oldest form of X-ray technology. Since their invention in 1865, X-rays have been used to confirm diagnoses such as fractures, arthritis, various types of cancer, lung infections, and osteoporosis. To obtain these images, a radiographer using traditional X-ray techniques positioned your body between the X-ray machine and the film (called a radiograph).
However, our team here at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center in Houston, Texas, offers digital X-rays and other state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tests. Instead of producing an image on film, our digital X-ray sensors project highly accurate images to a computer screen rather than a physical radiograph.
The importance of X-rays has only grown over the last 158 years, and that’s partly due to the shift from film-based X-rays to digital X-rays. Let’s take a look at those benefits below:
Digital X-rays emit less radiation
Radiation is measured in millisievert (mSv), and you can be exposed to radiation through your environment (called background radiation) or through X-rays. All X-rays expose you to some radiation, and your body absorbs some (not all) of the X-ray radiation. The radiation that isn’t absorbed travels through your body and creates the X-ray image.
How much radiation you’re exposed to during an X-ray depends on two factors: what body part is being examined and what type of X-ray procedure you need. Here’s a few examples of effective radiation doses from common procedures:
- Chest X-ray: 0.1 mSv
- Bone density DEXA: 0.001 mSv
- Computed Tomography (CT)–Chest: 6.1 mSv
- Computed Tomography (CT)–Spine: 8.8 mSv
It’s true that more specialized X-ray testing (such as the CT scans) emit more radiation than a simple X-ray (such as the chest X-ray), digital X-rays, on average, emit less radiation than traditional film-based X-rays.
Digital X-rays produce immediate images
Digital X-rays don’t require any film processing. This means that your digital X-ray results are available immediately. Additionally, because the images appear immediately, if the radiographer didn’t get the right angles or enough images, you don’t have to wait around for the images to process before realizing that you need to take more images. This also makes your appointment more efficient.
Digital X-rays produce better images
Digital X-rays produce better images than traditional X-rays. Digital X-rays:
- Have better resolution
- Are more clear
- Produce highly detailed images
- Can be digitally manipulated (enlarged or brightened using computer software)
Better images lead to more accurate diagnoses and better treatment planning.
Safer and more convenient file sharing
Digital files don’t need to go through the mail system in order for your larger treatment team to see them. Digital X-ray files can be shared safely, easily, and quickly. Not only is file sharing made easy, but it’s also safer. We store your digital images in a HIPAA-compliant, secure external hard drive. This means your digital X-rays are protected from physical damage as well as loss or theft.
Digital X-rays are better for the planet
Not only are digital X-rays better for you, they’re also better for the planet! In order to develop a traditional X-ray, the films must be treated with toxic chemicals. Not only does this potentially expose the developer to these toxic chemicals, but if the chemicals are not disposed of properly, they can leak into the environment.
In addition to the chemicals used to develop the films, traditional X-rays still produce much more waste: packaging and shipping materials used to ship the films to us, packaging and shipping materials used to mail the results to various teams, etc.
Getting ready for your digital X-rays
There’s no denying that digital X-rays are far superior to traditional X-rays. To recap, they emit less radiation, they produce better quality images, they are easy and safer to store or send, and they’re better for the environment.
If you’re scheduled for an upcoming digital X-ray here in our Houston, Texas office, know that you don’t need to perform any special steps. You prepare for a digital X-ray the same way that you would prepare for a traditional X-ray.
To learn more about our X-ray services or to schedule an appointment, call us at 713-781-6200 or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment.