At first glance, it doesn’t seem as though there is a lot that goes into taking an X-ray. Place the body part between the X-ray tube and the film and fire away. Simply speaking, that is exactly right, but the desired aspect of that joint or bone being imaged needs to be taken into account. Is it the joint space that needs to be visualized? How is that joint space angled? What are overlying and underlying structures? What is the tissue density? There are a slew of parameters that need to be factored into successfully executing an X-ray.
Just a small glimpse at the excitement radiology instills in students.
This trimester, after years of X-ray classes geared towards reading and understanding the X-ray, we finally are stepping behind the wall. We have some nifty X-ray dummies that are composed of human bones, encased in a composite that, more or less, mimics the density of human soft tissues. So, to answer your inevitable question, no, we don’t irradiate our fellow classmates unnecessarily. And let me tell you, there would be a lot of radiation.
While our school does have cutting edge X-ray technology, we learn the good ol’ fashioned way – on film. There is a fully functioning darkroom with a developer at our disposal whenever the school is open. It doesn’t seem like that much of a pain, until you realize that you won’t know whether or not you have a halfway decent X-ray until you’ve fully developed it. A few missteps can take a solid 10-15 minutes to iron out.
Each consecutive X-ray results in standing in the pitch black, groping around in the dark to feed your film into the developer and waiting, anxiety-ridden, until it comes back out again. X-ray positioning may sound like it could be a bit tedious at times but Dr. Michael Fergus breathes as much life as is possible into the subject. Either way, X-rays are pretty awesome.