Sample essay on Role of General X-ray in Medicine

Role of General X-ray in Medicine


X-radiations, commonly known as a form of electromagnetic radiations with a wavelength ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometers (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). They are part of the electromagnetic system with a shorter wavelength as compared to that of visible light but longer than that of gamma rays. Sometimes, they are referred to as Rontgen radiations after Wilhelm Rontgen, the scientist who discovered them and named them x-radiations, to show that they are an unknown type of radiation.  According to Bravin, Coan, & Suortti, (2012) x-rays with high energy (a wavelength between 0.1 and 0.2 nanometers) are hard x-rays while those with low energy are soft x-rays. Since hard x-rays have high penetration ability, they are used for imaging the inside of objects especially in medical radiography and also in airport security (Bertin, 2012).

X-rays contain enough energy to ionize atoms and disrupt molecular their bonds making them a type of ionizing radiation (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). They can, therefore, be harmful to live tissue-X-rays can be produced when charged particles (electrons or ions) with sufficient energy heat an object (Bertin, 2012). The target is usually tungsten In medical X-ray tubes, but sometimes molybdenum is used for more specialized procedures. As indicated by Bertin, (2012) the rays can emanate from fast protons or any other positive ions.  Such x-rays are widely used in an analytical procedure (Bertin, 2012).

Detection of x-rays depends on detectors that vary following their shape and purpose. Imaging detectors, used in radiography, were originally based on photographic plates and later photographic films (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). Currently, image plates as well as flat panel detectors have replaced them. Ionization chambers are used to evaluate hazards brought about by direct exposure to x-rays as a radiation protection measure (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). On the other hand, dosimeters can be used to assess the radiation dose an individual has encountered dispersive or wavelength dispersive spectrometers are used to measure the x-ray spectra.


Since their discovery, rays have been widely used in medical procedures such as radiography and radiotherapy. In radiography, x-rays are used to photograph the inner parts of the body, organs such as the heart and lungs or bones (Bertin, 2012). The radiograph is acquired through by placing the part of the patient’s body in front of the x-ray detector and subsequently illuminating it with a short x-ray pulse (Bertin, 2012). The quality of the radiograph depends on the on the part of the body being examined since x-rays are absorbed differently by different parts of the body. For instance, bones absorb the rays more efficiently than tissues and hence are seen clearly, because they appear lighter while muscles appear darker (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). This procedure is useful in the detecting the patholofgy especially in  soft tissue. The most common example is the x-ray and it is used in detection of lung cancer and pneumonia cases.

Uses of X-rays

X-rays are also used to kill cancer cells a medical procedure called radiotherapy or radiation therapy. The treatment is used to manage the growth and development of cancer cells. It requires high dosage than those used in imaging (Bertin, 2012). Lower energy x-ray beams are used in the treatment of skin cancers while use high-energy x-ray beams treat cancers within the body. Since x-rays are harmful to living tissue, great care should be taken when performing radiotherapy and radiography. Results from Taphoorn et al. (2005) indicate that very high radiation dose over a short period cause’s radiation sickness while low dosage causes radiation-induced cancers.

In most airports, most luggage scanners apply the x-rays to inspect the luggage before putting them on the aircraft.  Another application is the Border truck scanners which employ this technique to examine the inside of trucks. X-rays are also used in paintings, to reveal any underdrawings or alterations and analyze the reactions of pigments (Bertin, 2012). These rays are used in crystallography, astronomy and industrial radiography for inspection of industrial parts (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012).

Difference between X-ray CT scan and MRI Scan

In x-ray, small amounts of radiation have used that pass through the body capturing a single image of the body’s anatomy to evaluate the presence of injury or disease. Dense structures such as bones can prevent the radiation and therefore have a white appearance on the radiograph (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). On the other hand, a computed tomography commonly known as CT or CAT scan combine the application of x-rays and computers, to produce a 360-degree cross-sectional of the intended part of the body (Hu et al., 2001). It gives a detailed view of both the bony structures and tissues. Tissue abnormalities in tissues are clearer than in CT scan and unlike in x-rays radiation is not used in MRI scan (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012).

X-ray scans


A transverse plane of a Head CT scan slice – a modern application

Research conducted on the usefulness of x-ray in the current society reveals that the importance of x-ray in medicine is insurmountable.  Hospitals apply x- rays to assess the development and treatment as well as the diagnosis of the conditions such as arthritis heart conditions, osteoporosis, bone cancer, fractures, conditions affecting the lungs and several other conditions (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). The importance of the application of x-ray occurs in the safety of use.  To begin with, x-ray only uses mall amounts of radiations (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). As such the application can be considered to be safe for adults. The only exceptions are that X-ray emissions can be harmful to the developing fetus. As such pregnant women are advised to inform their physicians so as to change the method of diagnosis (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). The research was conducted to determine the usability of x-ray in the current society.


In the study, a qualitative methodology was appropriate. As such a questionnaire consisting of eleven close ended questions were used to gather the responses of different individuals on the role of   X-ray in the current society (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). The questionnaires were administered to a randomized sample of 30 people and upon filling their answers were assessed and analyzed accordingly. The questions sought on finding out the different opinions of the population regarding the relevance of x- ray in the current society.


The research entailed responses from 30 individuals. From the responses, it was evident that 66% of the individuals in the study were well aware of what general x-ray is all about. The rest of the individuals were not fully aware. In the same regard, 83% of the individuals further agreed to have had an x-ray at some point in their lifetime (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). More than 50% of the population sample agreed that general x-ray is necessary for the patient (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012). However, the entire population felt that the use of x- ray bears some harmful effects to the life of the patient.  Similarly, the same people felt that x-ray machines are of great importance in the hospital setting. Also, 66% of the individuals felt that there is still a role of x-ray in medicine currently (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012).


From the results analyzed, it is evident that x-ray plays a significant role I the field of medicine. Without them, patients would have difficulties diagnosing some of the most significant disease conditions. Although better technological mechanisms continue to be invented, x-ray continues to top the list of the most significant discoveries in the medical field. X-rays should be used with caution as they have been proved to damage living tissue (Bravin, Coan & Suortti, 2012).


X-rays remain to be the most important discovery in medicine, and they continue to be a valuable medical tool. They are both applied during diagnosis and treatment of patients. However, the importance of the X-rays comes with health hazards, for instance, the controlled use of X-ray may bring about serious injuries.  The injuries can be linked to exposure to the radiations. In the same regard, the exposure of the radiation to pregnant women may harm the fetus. As such protection from the exposure of x-ray radiation is paramount for the protection from any danger.


Bertin, E. P. (2012). Principles and practice of X-ray spectrometric analysis. Springer Science &

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Bravin, A., Coan, P., & Suortti, P. (2012). X-ray phase-contrast imaging: from pre-clinical applications towards clinics. Physics in medicine and biology, 58(1), R1.

Hu, S., Hoffman, E. A., & Reinhardt, J. M. (2001). Automatic lung segmentation for accurate quantitation of volumetric X-ray CT images. IEEE transactions on medical imaging, 20(6), 490-498.

Taphoorn, M. J., Stupp, R., Coens, C., Osoba, D., Kortmann, R., van den Bent, M. J., … & Forsyth, P. (2005). Health-related quality of life in patients with glioblastoma: a randomized controlled trial. The lancet oncol