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November 8, the International Day of Radiology, marks Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen’s significant discovery of X-rays 120 years ago. This year, the medical community is focusing on the critical role that radiology plays in detecting and treating conditions that affect children. 1
The International Day of Radiology is celebrated globally because radiation has played a key role in helping doctors diagnose and treat millions of people worldwide. In fact, in just one year, “more than 3,600 million X-ray examinations are performed, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given.” 2
When you think of X-rays, the first things that may come to mind are X-rays of broken bones or perhaps the X-rays that dentists take of your teeth. The uses of radiology in medicine, however, are actually far greater. In fact, if you’ve ever had an ultrasound, a mammogram, or chest X-ray, you’ve benefitted from radiology imaging technology of one form or another. 3
The images that X-rays create show up in shades of black and white based on how different substances absorb radiation. For example, the calcium found in bones and teeth absorbs the most radiation, so bones and teeth look white on X-rays. Soft tissues, such as those found in the abdominal cavity, and fat, absorb less radiation and appear gray. Air appears black on an X-ray because it absorbs the least amount of radiation. 4
There are many different forms of medical imaging that use forms of X-rays. These include, among others 5:
These forms of medical imaging work in a similar way for a variety of purposes. An X-ray beam passes through the body and the radiation is either “absorbed or scattered by internal structures” so that images can be created. 6
If you are experiencing pain, lack of mobility or other problems with a knee or hip, you may decide to speak with a medical specialist. X-rays may be one of the tools the doctor uses to diagnose your condition. 7
Sometimes X-rays will reveal evidence of osteoarthritis. For some patients, knee or hip replacement surgery may seem the best treatment option. 8
To prevent joint replacement complications, it’s a good idea to discuss specific manufacturers and models, and other treatment options with your doctor before scheduling joint replacement surgery. Some models have been associated with specific problems. These include:
One model in particular, the porous coated, uncemented Trabecular Metal Tibial Plate in the Zimmer Persona Personalized Knee System implant, is associated with “an increase in complaints of loosening and radiolucent lines.” 11 Zimmer issued this recall in March, 2015, and the FDA has classified it a Class 2 recall.
http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/ucm115317.htm; http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/ucm115354.htm; http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/ucm175028.htm ↩