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If you are scheduled for a dental or other medical x ray, you may want to consider learning the following terminology. Being informed will help you better communicate with the x ray technician in the radiology lab.
Superior - If the imaging specialist or medical doctor makes reference to a superior location on the x ray, he or she is referencing something above a reference point.
Inferior - Inferior is a term meaning below a set point of reference. These terms are often used on health insurance forms.
Cephalic - Cephalic references the upper part of the body, or toward the head.
Caudad - Caudad may also be used in a hospital or medical center to reference a location toward the feet.
Physiology - If the imaging technician, dental hygienist, or radiology doctor mentions physiology, he or she is simply referring to the physical actions of the human body.
Pathology - Pathology, on the other hand, is a term used if inspection of the x ray proves suspicious change. Lab tests are used to confirm the suspicion of pathology.
Osteology - Osteology is specifically the study of bones. This may include teeth, but often it is a sub-specialty.
Distal - If something is distal on your x ray, the technician or doctor means it is relatively far form the point of reference.
Proximal - Proximal, on the other hand, is used if the x ray machine produces an images that reveals something close to the reference point.
Diagnostic - Diagnostic tools, such as an x ray, bone scan or ultrasound, is used to determine a medical diagnosis for a patient.
X ray laboratories, or x ray labs for short, can be found in medical offices and radiology departments of hospitals, medical centers, and clinics. X ray is a crucial part of the diagnostic process, providing images and pictures of the body to detect anything from cancer to broken bones.
X ray laboratories use radiation to examine body parts. Some are geared toward dental procedures, only taking pictures of the teeth, while others are full-body x ray and MRI machines used in hospitals for a variety of purposes. Some provide x ray inspection services on or off site, offering real time x ray inspection and scanning electron spectroscopy.
Most hospitals and clinics have x ray labs on site. Small doctor's offices, however, may not have these capabilities and must send patients to area labs for radiology services. Some laboratories are affiliated with a hospital or clinic, while others operate independently and are located in a separate facility.
X ray machines and equipment are operated by qualified x ray technicians, who must attend school and obtain certification in this field. They use a variety of instruments, high tech machines, imaging equipment, and supplies to perform their jobs. Some technicians have various specialties, as one may work in a dental office while another may work in a medical center. Many x ray diagnostic procedures are covered by health care insurance, at least partially.
How does an x ray machine work? Basically, medical x rays are produced when a stream of electrons come to a sudden stop at a metal plate within the machinery. Because the calcium in bones absorbs these x rays the best, bone structures show up bright white on the imaging film. Soft tissues, such as organs and fat, appear gray due to the lower x ray absorption.