is the test?
- Doctors have used x-rays for over a century to see inside the
body in order to diagnose a variety of problems, including cancer,
fractures, and pneumonia. During this test, you usually stand
in front of a photographic plate while a machine sends x-rays,
a type of radiation, through your body. Originally, a photograph
of internal structures was produced on film; nowadays, the image
created by the x-rays goes directly into a computer. Dense structures,
such as bone, appear white on the x-ray films because they absorb
many of the x-ray beams and block them from reaching the plate.
Hollow body parts, such as lungs, appear dark because x-rays
pass through them. (In some other countries, like the United
Kingdom, the colors are reversed, and dense structures are black.)
Doctors use back x-rays to examine the vertebrae in the spine
for fractures, arthritis, or spine deformities such as scoliosis,
as well as for signs of infection or cancer. X-rays can be taken
separately for the three areas of the spine: the cervical spine
(neck), thoracic spine (middle back), and lumbar spine (lower
back). Occasionally, doctors x-ray the pelvis to help diagnose
the cause of back pain.