X-ray is used in many different ways in medical diagnosis. Routine x-rays involve exposing a body part to a small dose of radiation to produce an image of internal organs, bones and joints. Digital X-Ray systems do not use traditional photographic film. The digitized images are stored and displayed on the computer screen. Advantages include time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images. In addition, less radiation is used thereby reducing your exposure.
The most common use of x-rays is to identify bone fractures, and evaluate the chest. Following treatment, an x-ray can be done to ensure that the fracture has been properly aligned and stabilized for healing. X-rays can also be used to diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative diseases, such as arthritis. In addition, they play an important role in the detection and diagnosis of cancer.
Esophagram (Barium Swallow)
An examination of the pharynx (throat) and esophagus using still and fluoroscopic x-ray images. The x-ray pictures are taken after the patient drinks a barium solution that coats and outlines the walls of the esophagus. (Barium is a white, chalky substance that outlines the organs on the x-ray).
Upper GI Series
A series of x-rays of the esophagus, stomach and the first portion of the small intestine that are taken after the patient drinks a barium solution.
Small Bowel (Small Intestine) Series
A series of x-rays of the part of the digestive tract that extends from the stomach to the large intestine. This study is often combined with an upper GI.
Barium Enema (Lower GI Series)
A series of x-rays of the lower intestine (colon) and rectum that are taken after the patient is given an enema with a white chalky solution that contains barium. The barium outlines the intestines on the x-rays. These x-rays permit the detection of colon and rectal abnormalities including diverticulosis, diverticulitis, abnormal colon movement, dilation (widening) of the colon, polyps and cancers of the colon and rectum. Air can be instilled into the colon along with the barium contrast medium to further define structures of the large bowel and rectum. Polyps and small cancers are more readily found using this method which is called an air contrast barium enema or a double contrast barium enema.
Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
An x-ray examination of the kidneys, ureters and bladder.
X-ray of a joint after the injection of a contrast medium in order to more clearly visualize the joint, most often done in conjunction with an MRI of that joint.