The use of x-ray imaging as a diagnostic tool in medicine dates back to 1895, following Wilhelm Röntgen's discovery that x-rays could have been used to create images of internal bone structures. Within days of the German physicist's discovery, the technique was being adopted by doctors to help diagnose patient's medical complaints faster and more accurately than ever before.
Today there are understood to be over 5 billion diagnostic medical tests performed every year, of which two thirds involve the use x-rays demonstrating the huge medical significance of the discovery and its continued importance in medicine to this day.
Advances in Radiology
There have been numerous advances in technology since Rontgen's discovery, although it was not until the 1960's that the first digital x-ray images were first produced. Digital imaging equipment and the accompanying computer software and hardware to store and view images were developed in the 1970's and 1980's, and today, these modern x-ray services are being offered in hospitals and major medical clinics the world over.
Benefits of Digital X-Ray Imaging
There are numerous advantages to a digital x-ray over photographic film method of recording an image. From a patient's perspective the benefits are fundamental. The latest equipment allows images to be produced in less time and it can be transmitted immediately to a referring doctor. This greatly speeds up the time taken to diagnose injuries and illnesses.
However, the largest benefit to the patient is the dose of radiation received. Photographic film requires exposure to higher intensity pulses of x-rays in order to create sufficient contrast in the image and uses far lower doses of radiation, while producing images of superior quality with greater diagnostic value.
Digital images are affected less by under and over exposure and radiographs can check the image instantly while a patient is still present. Should shadows be present on the images, further x-rays can be taken reducing the inconvenience caused to the patient.
Radiographers can also subject a digital image to a number of image enhancing techniques to improve image clarity, which results in better quality images with greater diagnostic value. There is also a substantial cost advantage, as the images do not require costly photographic film and chemicals to develop the image.
Many clinics and hospitals across the country now offer digital x-ray services to patients. However, the cost of new scanners can be prohibitively expensive for some smaller clinicians and access to the latest low-dose digital x-ray scanners may not be possible without making a trip to a major city.
Quite a few private radiology clinics are now offering state of the art equipment to residents in the suburbs, with companies such as Insight Radiology now offering digital X-ray. Residents no longer need to travel long distances to have the safest imaging tests performed and can benefit from scans taken on state of the art equipment using a fraction of the dose of x-rays used to develop photographic images.