The discovery of X-Rays is credited to Wilhelm Röntgen, a German scientist. The X-Ray is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is mostly used to determine skeletal structures, although some forms of X-Rays are also used to detect anomalies in soft tissue. The bone, being made of calcium, is more efficient at absorbing radiation, hence the more widespread use of X-Rays to determine whether there are any anomalies or fractures in bone structures. X-Rays have been used for a long time for this very purpose; however, recently, certain concerns are being raised regarding its effects on the body. X-Rays are, after all, a kind of radiation, and it is t be expected that they will cause some damage to the areas that pass under them. In this article, we will look at both the positive and negative effects of X-Rays.
Positive effects of X-Rays
Let us first begin with the beneficial uses of X-Rays. It is to be remembered that they do not directly confer any positive effect on the body, but their usefulness lies in their function.
X-Rays are large used to perform CT scans, or computed tomography, to use the medical terminology. X-Rays are passed through specific areas of a body from different directions, thus providing a 3 dimensional cross section of the affected area. This is used or various medical purposes such as understanding the workings within a part of the body for strictly educational purposes. It is also used extensively for locating an affected area and making an accurate diagnosis in order to start treatment. It is especially used in matters relating to the head or the cranium.
Yet another very extensive use of X-Rays is in cancer treatment. X-Rays of various doses are directed toward the areas affected with cancer, in an attempt to contain and/or destroy the cancer cells. This is used as a curative as well as palliative measure. In fact, a side effect of X-Rays- their ability to slightly burn the region they are directed at- is harnessed in this procedure. This is probably one of the most beneficial uses of X-Ray radiation since it is one of the few effective cancer treatments there is at present.
Projectional radiography is yet another use of X-Rays. It is much like the CT scan, but it is used to obtain two dimensional images. It is used for both educational and therapeutic purposes. It is most commonly used to detect anomalies in the skeletal structure, such as broken bones or unnatural bone formations. However, it is also pretty commonly used to locate anomalies in soft tissue, such as in cases of lung diseases, cardiac diseases like blockages, dental issues like cavities, and abdominal problems like obstruction in the intestines.
Negative effects of X-Rays:
Despite all the usefulness of this kind of radiation, some concerns have recently been raised regarding the side effects it may have on the patient.
Although X-Rays are used to target cancerous cells, ironically enough, these very rays can cause cancer. X-Rays have been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen, and the risk is especially high for a person who is exposed to a lot of X-Ray radiation. As a result, some carcinoma resulting from CT scans are seen since a large dose of the radiation is used for CT scans. In fact, this is what often contributes to the return of cancer in the same area; radiation is carcinogenic in high doses. However, it is highly disputed that there is a limit of radiation under which there is no chance of a cancer occurring. For all intents and purposes, for now at least, all doses of radiation have the potential to cause cancer.
Harmful for a fetus
If CT scans, projectional radiographies, fluoroscopes, or radiotherapy are used on a pregnant woman, the results can be dangerous. The effects of radiation are far greater on a fetus, and it is completely adverse. Hence, a lot of caution is administered while performing any of the aforementioned on an expecting woman, and the procedures are undertaken only after careful analysis of the risks posed to the fetus, and tallying them with the benefits received by the mother.
At present, X-Rays are an integral part of the medical field. There is, till now, no other form of imaging that would effectively replace X-Ray imaging to diagnose soft tissue and bone anomalies, and this makes them a necessary evil. Sadly, though, the incidence of radiation damage is increasing worldwide, and greater numbers of radiation-induced cancers are being reported. And until a different kind of imaging technique is discovered or invented, we have no choice but to rely on X-Ray radiations.