X-rays are forms of radiant energy, like light or radio waves. Unlike light, x-rays can penetrate the body, which allows a radiologist to produce pictures of internal structures. The radiologist can view these on photographic film or on a TV or computer monitor.

X-ray examinations provide valuable information about your health and play an important role in helping your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. In some cases x-rays are used to assist with the placement of tubes or other devices in the body or with other therapeutic procedures.

As with other medical procedures, x-rays are safe when used with care. Radiologists and x-ray technologists have been trained to use the minimum amount of radiation necessary to obtain the needed results. Properly conducted imaging carries minimal risks and should be performed when clinically indicated. The amount of radiation used in most examinations is very small and the benefits greatly outweigh the risk of harm.

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital offers digital radiography (DR) – for standard X-rays – as another example of the hospital’s quest to provide the most up-to-date care. Exams utilizing DR take approximately half the time as conventional film radiography; a chest x-ray that used to take 5 minutes now takes about 2 minutes, conventional spinal x-rays that can take 30-45 minutes are now done in 20 minutes utilizing DR. Most importantly, DR reduces the need for repeats, which in turn lowers the possibility of unnecessary radiation exposure to patients.