Imaging Technology: The Science Behind X-Ray Machines

Monday, December 12, 2016

Imaging Technology: The Science Behind X-Ray Machines


Medicine

The Houston Chronicle reports that "the healthcare industry is expanding quickly and there is a need for trained technologists in many areas of the country."  The growth of the healthcare sector provides career paths leading to a secure future as well as generous compensation.


Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that's all around us, including visible light, radio, microwaves, ultraviolet radiation, and X-rays. The radiation is created when an atomic particle is accelerated by an electric field, which produces an oscillating wave with energy and momentum. Visible light consists of larger waves and therefore has less energy. X-rays, on the other hand, are made up of smaller, denser wavelengths that carry much higher levels of energy. This high energy allows them to pass through soft objects, including the human body.

Related articles

Medicine

Medical X-rays make use of these high energy waves to generate images of tissues and structures inside the body. Essentially, if you take a high speed electron and shoot it at a metal surface, it will produce an X-ray image of whatever substance it happens to pass through. If you've ever looked at an X-ray image before, you'll notice that different parts of the X-ray appear in black and white and various shades of gray. The contrast of the image depends on both the density and atomic number of the material that the X-ray passes through.

According to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, high density structures such as bones more easily absorb X-rays and therefore produce a higher contrast on the X-ray detector. This is due to the presence of elements like calcium, which contain a high atomic number. As a result, bones appear whiter than other tissues against the black background of a radiograph. Muscles and fat, through which X-rays more easily pass, appear as shades of gray.

The Risk

Because X-ray machines produce a small amount of high-energy radiation, your risk of cancer will slightly increase every time you use an X-ray machine. Your total risk of developing cancer depends on the cumulative effect of your lifetime exposure to X-rays. However, that must be weighed against the possibility that X-rays can reveal a serious medical condition that will improve or save your life.

If you're interested in acquiring a radiation science degree, you can pursue one at most major universities. A career in this field typically involves working with an X-ray machine, MRI machine, or CT scan. The Houston Chronicle reports that "the healthcare industry is expanding quickly and there is a need for trained technologists in many areas of the country." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a radiologic technologist was $58,120 in 2015. The typical entry-level work required at least an associate's degree.


By  Meghan BelnapEmbed



0 comments:

Post a Comment