X-rays or radiographs are the oldest available non-invasive method of obtaining pictures of the inside of a body. They are still commonly used today and provide excellent valuable information with regard to the bony or skeletal structure. X-rays provide us with a two dimensional picture much like a shadow of the bones with a faint outline of the soft tissues. They involve the use of ionising radiation which is transmitted in a beam form and impacts on a silver impregnated film. Once this film is developed, it gives excellent pictures of the bony or skeletal structure.

X-rays are usually used in the identification of fractures. Many fractures are able to be treated, without operations, in plasters and your doctor may bring you back at weekly intervals for check x-rays. In the early stages of fracture healing, there is a possibility that even though the bone or limb is encased in plaster the fracture may move to an unsatisfactory position. It is common practice for the doctor to perform weekly x-rays for the first two to four weeks, depending on the fracture. At the end of this stage, the fracture is unlikely to move and will not require such frequent x-rays. Further x-rays are then usually performed to ensure that the fracture has united prior to or just after removal of the plaster.

X-rays are also used to examine pain in major body joints. The x-rays provide a picture of the bones and from the reaction to the bones around the joint, the doctor can often determine useful information with regard to the status of that joint. Unfortunately x-rays do not show good pictures of soft tissue structures such as ligaments, menisci or muscles and significant pathology within the soft tissue structures is often not found on plain radiographs. Thus, there is a need for further specific investigations depending on the pathology that the doctor is looking for.

Posted in: Patient Tests and Investigations