What Patients Should Know About X-rays

National Radiologic Technology Week Is Nov. 6-12

Oct 19, 2005, 01:00 ET from American Society of Radiologic Technologists

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 300 million
 radiologic procedures are performed annually in the United States, ranging
 from x-rays of broken toes to magnetic resonance images of brain function.
 Even though one in six Americans will undergo some type of radiologic
 examination this year, most of us know little about these imaging procedures
 or the health care professionals who perform them.
     The American Society of Radiologic Technologists hopes to give people a
 clearer picture of the profession during National Radiologic Technology Week,
 Nov. 6-12. The annual celebration marks the anniversary of Wilhelm Roentgen's
 discovery of the x-ray on Nov. 8, 1895.
     "Radiologic technology provides answers that help doctors detect injury
 and diagnose disease," said ASRT President Cathy Parsons, administrative
 director of medical imaging for Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville, Tenn.
 "In fact, it's hard to imagine modern medicine without the information that x-
 rays, CT scans and other radiologic examinations provide."
     To celebrate National Radiologic Technology Week, the ASRT has issued tips
 patients can use to ensure that they receive quality care the next time they
 are scheduled for an x-ray examination. The ASRT, based in Albuquerque, N.M.,
 represents more than 120,000 registered radiologic technologists.
     Tips for a Safe X-ray Examination
     *  Tell your physician or the radiologic technologist if you are pregnant.
 Many types of x-ray examinations may be performed safely on pregnant women,
 but the benefits of the examination must be weighed against any risk to the
 developing fetus.
     *  The eyes, thyroid and reproductive organs are more sensitive to
 radiation than other parts of the body. These organs usually are shielded when
 they are in the path of the x-ray beam, unless the use of shields would
 interfere with the examination. If you do not receive shielding and think you
 should, ask.
     *  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. If you
 are having a skull x-ray, you will need to remove earrings, hairpins and
 eyeglasses. For an x-ray of the hands, you'll be asked to remove rings,
 bracelets and watches. For other types of examinations, you may have to remove
 clothing that has zippers, metal buttons or snaps, depending on the area of
 the body being examined. 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,
 http://www.asrt.org . Click on the "For the Public" link, and then on "About
 Your Exam," to learn more about mammography, radiation therapy, computed
 tomography and much more.
     About ASRT
     The ASRT represents more than 120,000 members who perform medical imaging
 procedures or plan and deliver radiation therapy. The Society is the largest
 radiologic science association 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