ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- On Nov. 8, 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen made a scientific discovery that would revolutionize modern medicine. In a basement laboratory at the University of Wurzburg in Germany, the physics professor discovered the x-ray. (To honor this important milestone in medical history, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists has designated the week of Nov. 5-11, 2006, as National Radiologic Technology Week.) An x-ray image, or radiograph, is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through a body part and is recorded on film, video or a computer, producing a black-and-white anatomical image. Early uses of the x-ray were mostly for entertainment. Following Professor Roentgen's discovery, studios sprang up across Europe and North America touting "Roentgen photographs" as a way for the public to view their bones. Soon, however, the medical community realized the value of x-rays in diagnosing disease and treating illness. Today, medical imaging is one of the most commonly performed medical procedures, with more than 300 million exams performed annually. It has moved the beyond the black and white x-ray film to different types of medical imaging technologies. Medical imaging is used for everything from measuring bone density to pinpointing brain tumors and from diagnosing breast cancer to checking on fetal health during pregnancy. The health professionals who produce medical images are called radiologic technologists. R.T.s typically attend an accredited two-year associate's degree program at a community college or technical school or an accredited four-year bachelor's degree program at a university or college. During their educational program, R.T. students study anatomy, biology, radiation safety and physics. They learn to use computers to acquire and manipulate images while working with some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the medical field. In addition, students learn communications and problem-solving skills so they can work with both patients other members of the health care team. ASRT offer tips for patients having medical imaging procedures: * Tell your physician or the radiologic technologist if you are pregnant. Many types of x-ray examinations may be performed safely, but the benefits of the examination must be weighed against any risk to the developing fetus. * Remain still during the exposure, which lasts only a few seconds. Motion makes images blurry and requires them to be repeated. For certain exams, you also will be asked to hold your breath so the movement of your lungs will not blur the image. The easiest way to do this is to take a deep breath, exhale, and then take another breath and hold it. * Metal can interfere with the interpretation of an x-ray image. Depending on the type and location of the x-ray, you may be asked to remove metal items such jewelry, eyeglasses or clothing that has zippers, metal buttons or snaps. You will be given a hospital gown to wear. * Don't refuse a radiologic examination if there is a clear need for it. X-rays and other radiologic examinations can provide life-saving information. On the other hand, don't insist on an x-ray or other type of imaging examination if your physician does not recommend one. Like most things in life, radiologic procedures carry a small risk. They should be performed only when there is a medical need. * Ask whether the person performing your examination is a registered radiologic technologist. Registered technologists must graduate from a formal educational program and pass a national certification exam. They also must earn continuing education credits throughout their careers, keeping them up-to-date on changes in technology. Information about what to expect before, during and after some of the most common radiologic examinations is available on the ASRT Web site, www.asrt.org. Click on the "For the Public" link, and then on "About Your Exam," to learn more. About ASRT The ASRT represents more than 121,000 members who perform medical imaging procedures or plan and deliver radiation therapy. The Society is the largest radiologic science organization in the world. Its mission is to provide radiologic technologists with the knowledge, resources and support they need to improve patient care.
SOURCE American Society of Radiologic Technologists