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How does x-ray machines work?

UpDate:2015-02-09 16:02:28

As with many of mankind's monumental discoveries, medical x-ray technology was invented completely by accident. In 1895, a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen made the discovery while experimenting with electron beams in a gas discharge tube. Roentgen noticed that a fluorescent screen in his lab started to glow when the electron beam was turned on. This response in itself wasn't so surprising -- fluorescent material normally glows in reaction to electromagnetic radiation -- but Roentgen's tube was surrounded by heavy black cardboard. Roentgen assumed this would have blocked most of the radiation.

Roentgen placed various objects between the tube and the screen, and the screen still glowed. Finally, he put his hand in front of the tube, and saw the silhouette of his bones projected onto the fluorescent screen. Immediately after discovering x-rays themselves, he had discovered their most beneficial application.

Roentgen's remarkable discovery precipitated one of the most important medical advancements in human history. X ray technology lets doctors see straight through human tissue to examine broken bones, cavities and swallowed objects with extraordinary ease. Modified X ray procedures can be used to examine softer tissue, such as the lungs, blood vessels or the intestines.

How an medical x-ray machine work? An X ray machine is essentially a video camera. Instead of visible light, however, it uses X rays to expose the film.

X rays are like light in that they are electromagnetic waves, but they are more energetic so they can penetrate many materials to varying degrees. When the X rays hit the film, they expose it just as light would. Since bone, fat, muscle, tumors and other masses all absorb X rays at different levels, the image on the film lets you see different (distinct) structures inside the body because of the different levels of exposure on the film
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