X-rays are very commonly used in hospital settings. You don’t need to be a professional to know of them. As soon as the word is heard, one can have a mental picture of the black film that depicts the bones. But what are X-rays?
X-rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They have more energy than ultraviolet radiations but less than gamma radiations. The black sheet that we carry after the procedure is called an X-ray film.
X-rays are used in many aspects of life; however, their use in the medical field is of utmost importance. X-Rays have been a guiding light for physicians in analysing the internal anatomy of patients and determining the correct diagnosis. The earliest use of X-ray is documented in 1895 by William Roentgen. Since then it has seen various transformations in its use from Plain Film Radiography, Fluoroscopy, to current-day advanced CT scanners.
It is because of these ‘unknown rays’ (X-rays were named so because of this mysterious aspect) that we have gained a lot of understanding of different diseases. However, there is an aspect of X-rays that is not well known to all, which is the ionising nature of the X-rays. Despite their usefulness, X-rays have limitations. Repeated exposures are associated with serious consequences. So, there should be a balance to tip the vector towards the benefits rather than acquired harm. Physicians, radiologists, and radiology technologists must maintain this balance.
Reports from radiobiologists show that there is an increased chance of cancer and radiation-induced cell mutation due to persistent exposure to X-ray radiations. This applies to the patients and the medical professionals as well. So, there are some rules in place to keep the duo safe. They include proper patient care, as well as safety devices and personal monitoring devices for healthcare workers who are exposed to more radiation.
Despite such rules in place, there are several hospitals including government-regulated ones where safety precautions are not followed. Piling patients in the same room where radiations exposure is high is often seen. Technologists wearing a personal dosimeter badge will not be easy to spot. These hospitals put the general public at risk.
There is a significant responsibility on the part of the government to stop such illicit practices and prosecute the defaulters.
The writer has a BSc in Radiology. [email protected]