On November 8th, World Radiography Day marks the anniversary of the discovery of the X-ray. The day also recognizes the important role that radiographers and radiologists play in the health care industry.
The first thing a doctor does when a patient breaks a bone is order an X-ray. This kind of medical imaging allows healthcare professionals to see what is going on inside the body. The painless diagnostic test uses a form of electromagnetic radiation that passes through objects.
Besides bone fractures, X-rays also detects:
- Enlarged heart
- Blood vessel blockages
- Fluid in lungs
- Dislocated joints
- Internal infections
- Tooth decay
- Foreign objects in the body
The benefits of X-rays include being completely non-invasive and taking only a few minutes to complete. Doctors like X-rays because the results can be seen almost immediately. Radiographers perform X-rays and once the test is performed, the results are analyzed by a radiologist. The radiologist then passes that information to the doctor. In some instances, radiographers need to use other kinds of medical imaging tests to diagnose a problem. These might include a CT Scan, MRI, fluoroscopy, mammography, or ultrasound.
Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen, a German mechanical engineer and physicist, discovered X-rays in 1895. He received the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901 for his discovery. The Polish-born physicist Marie Curie helped advance the X-ray using radium, an element she discovered. In the early 1900s, hospitals were already using X-ray technology. By the 1930s, X-rays were a routine part of patient diagnostics. Today, around 3.6 million diagnostic tests that use radiation in medical imaging are performed each year. Up to 80 percent of diagnostic problems are resolved with the help of X-rays.