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x rays
Veterinary Radiology Basics
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Radiology is a necessary part of clinic life yet so many vets, vet techs and nurses that I know shudder at the though of going into the "X-ray room". This page aims to refresh you on the basics of radiology safety and "what all the bits do", before presenting a couple of useful books for both performing and interpreting radiographs.

The History of the "X-ray"

The "X-ray" was first discovered in November 1895 by Wilhelm konrad Roentgen at the University of Wurstburg, Germany. The "X-ray" was so named, as the ray that Roentgen proposed was called ray "X". Initally used for entertainment at fairs, the harmflul effects of "X-rays" were not realied until much later. Roentgen later went on to win the Nobel prize in Physics in 1901.

It only took the Veterinary world 3 months to start using "x-Rayd"in Febuary 1896, the first veterinary radiograph of a rabbit pup was taken.

So what exactly is an "X-ray"?

It is the name given to the ray emitted, it is a type of electomagnetic radiation that has no charge and no mass, is able to travel at the speed of light without being seen or felt. The ray can not be deflected by magnetic fields but can penetrate all matter to some degree and cause certain substances to fluoresce (Fluroscopy) and others to expose (radiology). Perhaps its most dangerous attribute is it is able to ionise atoms.

Basic Radiological Safety:

- all personal NOT restraining an animal should leave the room or be behind a protective barrier

- Anyone who is pregnant or suspects they may be pregnant must not enter the rooom

- A warning light or warning system should be inpalce to alert other of when Radiographs are being taken

- Full protective clothing should be worn including lead gown, gloves and thyroid guard

- No body should be in the direct way of the primary beam, as protective clothing will not protect you from the beam

The Factors

- Milliamperage (mA) controls the current or the number of electrons emmitted. The mA's are responsible for the "blackness" of the film and the "Intensity". To make a noticable change you must change the value by at least 30%

- Kilovoltage potential (kVp) is the measure of the energy each proton possess, and thereby its ability to penetrate. The kVp is responsible for contrast and controls the beam quality. But note the Higher the kVp the LOWER the contrast

A good tip is to create a chart of patient measurements against factors and record the quality of the exposure to use as a reference for your machine

How Films Work -

Maybe not so important now that we have automated machines and digital radiology, however if you are using films and they turn out looking funning a knowledge of what each chemical does can be useful for troubleshooting the problem

In the developer, the exposed grains are preferentially reduced to black metallic silver. In the fixer the remaining unexposed grains are dissolved so that they can be removed from the emulsion by washing. Replenishment ensures that chemical balance is maintained with usage of the processing solutions.

For example: if you overall film is too pale, you developer may be too dilute, need replacing or you are not leaving your film in the developer long enough

Remember: The goal of diagnostic radiology is to obtain maximum diagnostic information with minimal exposure of the patient, personnel and general public.

Now that you know the history of radiographs, a little bit about safety, factors and how film works it time to start taking some! (but first you might want to learn a little about interpreting them)


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