X-rays are the mainstay of evaluating spinal alignment. It is the best way available to “see” the spine and diagnose and measure scoliosis and other spinal deformitiesand also help to diagnose vertebral fractures, bone spur formation (osteophytes), spondylolisthesis, and other spinal disorders. It was first developed over one century ago. Through the years, the technology has significantly improved. Today, the dose of x-ray needed to produce quality images is just a small fraction of what was required in the past. Although most individuals have concerns about radiation exposure from X-ray, the dosages are very low and are not believed to cause significant risks with current techniques. This technology is used in hospitals, imaging and medical centers, and physician’s offices. For your convenience, at Scoliosis Associates, x-rays are done in our private office.
The treating physician determines the type of x-ray required. Some x-rays require the patient to stand against a special surface, bend forward and backward, or lie on a movable table. Dr. Lonner’s team may request a flexibility x-ray such as a traction, bending, or fulcrum bending x-ray.
An x-ray requires no special preparation. The patient does not need to restrict food or fluids prior to the test. The technician will ask if the patient is pregnant to avoid x-ray exposure to the fetus. The patient will be asked to remove jewelry or other metal objects and change into a medical gown.
Prior to the x-ray procedure, lead blockers are placed directly on the x-ray machine to minimize the patient’s exposure to radiation. These blockers are used instead of lead aprons worn by the patient, which can weigh down the patient and potentially change the x-ray results. In addition, for your protection the x-ray machine at Scoliosis Associates is tested on a regular basis to ensure radiation exposure is below government safety guidelines.
High speed digital x-ray film and short x-ray exposure times are utilized, along with shielding of sensitive tissues, to minimize patient exposure.
What Happens During an X-Ray?
The type of images requested by the physician determines the position(s) the patient is placed in during the test. The various positions for spinal x-rays include laying, standing, and forward and backward or side bending. The radiology staff will take appropriate measures to help alleviate any discomfort the patient feels during the test.
After the X-Ray
The patient may be asked to wait until the x-ray department has developed the films to check the quality and adequacy of the x-ray. The x-ray is then sent electronically to the electronic archives or PAC system for review by the doctor.
What Does An X-Ray Look Like?
An x-ray is a picture created in many shades of black, gray and white. Bones and other calcified structures appear almost white because they are denser than soft tissue and absorb more of the electromagnetic radiation. Muscle, fat and other soft tissues appear darker (black to gray tones) on the x-ray.
The physicians at Scoliosis Associates regularly use x-rays to help diagnose spinal disorders. Our expert medical staff are trained to perform x-rays safely and to help you understand the x-ray process, and to keep you comfortable throughout.