Types of X–Ray Exam

There is a wide range of x–ray tests, each of which are targeted at different body parts and conditions. Some of the specialized tests that you may come across as an x-ray technologist are:

Angiography: Also known as coronary angiography, this test is traditionally used to examine blood vessels in the heart to identify obstructions. A contrast material is injected into a blood vessel to improve the doctor’s visibility.

Arthrography: This exam focuses on joints and involves the injection of a contrast agent into the joint.

Barium x-rays: These tests use barium as a contrast agent. They include:

  • Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) tests examine the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (top of the small intestine) using barium to coat the walls of the upper digestive tract. Barium swallows are used to identify any abnormalities such as tumors, ulcers, hernias, pouches, strictures, and swallowing difficulties.
  • Lower Gastrointestinal (GI) tests, also known as a barium enemas, involve giving the patient an enema to coat the intestines with a solution containing barium. Barium enemas are used to diagnose disorders of the large intestine, colon and rectum.

Bone Density Scan: Also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry, a bone density scan measures how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone to determine if the patient has osteoporosis. DXA is most often performed on the lower spine and hips.

Bone X-Ray: A bone x-ray examines any bone in the body, including the foot, ankle, knee, leg, arm, hand, wrist or spine.

Computed/Computerized Axial Tomography (CT or CAT Scans): This exam uses multiple x–ray images taken from different angles to create three–dimensional images that provide greater detail. The CT scanner is typically a large machine through which the patient’s entire body is passed through as it takes pictures.

Chest X-Ray: As the name implies, a chest x-ray creates images of the chest area, including the heart and lungs.

Cystogram: A cystogram is an examination of the urinary bladder.

Discography: This test focuses on the intervertebral discs in the spinal column and uses a contrast agent injected into the affected disc.

Fluoroscopy: A fluoroscopy produces moving x-ray images of internal body parts. Fluoroscopy can be used to study the movement of a body part or to track the movement of a contrast agent or an instrument — like a syringe — inside the body.

Intravenous Pyelography (IVP): This test is used to study the kidneys, urinary tract, ureters and bladder. A contrast material is injected into the patient’s vein and collects in the kidneys and urinary tract.

Mammography: Mammograms are x-rays that focus on the breasts, typically to screen for breast cancer.

Myelography: This text examines the spinal column for conditions like tumors, swelling and herniated discs.

Skull Radiography: This x-ray exam produces images of the skull to study sinuses and bones in the face and jaw.

Virtual Colonoscopy (VC): This exam produces images of the colon (large intestine) to diagnose colon and bowel disease.

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