Each year on 8 November, World Radiography Day is celebrated to mark the anniversary of the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. X-rays are an important imaging tool used to detect bone fractures, some types of injuries, dental problems, certain tumours, foreign objects, etc.
What Are X-rays?
X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can pass through most objects, including the body. Medically, it is used to generate images of tissues and bone structures inside the body.
When an X-ray beam passes through the body, the tissues and bones absorb the beam in different amounts depending on their density. This generates a shadow that is picked up on a film placed on the opposite side of the X-ray machine.
Radiography, fluoroscopy, and computed tomography (CT) are the types of X-ray imaging used to detect medical conditions. Though X-ray imaging is widely used to help people treat the disease on time, the test has its own share of risks too. Let's find out.Advantages Of X-ray Imaging
X-rays produce ionizing radiation that has the ability to harm tissues inside the body. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Government, X-rays can cause DNA mutations and may cause cancer in later life .
According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, in the U.S. around 0.4% of cancers are caused by CT scans .
Another study showed that in the UK and 13 other developed countries, X-rays elevate the risk of cancer by 0.6 to 1.8% by the age of 75 years. In Japan, the cancer risk is more than 3% .
In another study published in the Environmental Health and Toxicology, exposure to dental X-ray can possibly increase the risk of meningioma and thyroid cancer .
In addition, exposure to high radiation levels has side effects like bleeding, fainting, vomiting, and hair loss. The risk depends on the type of X-ray imaging and the part of the body being imaged.To Conclude...
When X-rays are used appropriately, the benefits significantly outweigh the risks. That being said, X-rays emit lower doses of radiation which doesn't cause any immediate health problems. Making the right diagnosis and choosing the correct treatment make X-ray imaging far more beneficial, however, it is also important to keep the risks in mind.