How do X-rays work?

We all love to see ourselves, both in photographs, as well as in our mirrors. It simply makes us happy and contented. But what we see is actually the outside of our body, and there’s one way in which we can see for ourselves what’s inside our body.

Confused? Well, read along to find out!


Concept of X-Rays

X-ray is a device used most widely in the field of medical sciences, particularly by doctors. It helps them to see the inside of your body and get a clear understanding of what is wrong inside. In simple language, it would just mean a device that would take pictures of the inside of you, and thereafter these will be examined to treat your illness. In most common cases, you would require to do an x-ray in matters related to your bones.

Working Of  X-Rays

X-rays or X-radiations are basically high-energy, penetrating forms of electromagnetic radiations  These rays harmlessly penetrate the soft tissues of the body and then are absorbed by the bones of the specific body part. Since the radiation easily passes through fat, tissues and organs of our body but fails to penetrate our bones, the bones appear as white images on the x-ray film, while the soft tissues appear grey and the air black. These rays thus create the exact image of the condition of the bones and tissues inside.

How does the x-ray machine function?

The x-ray machine comprises an air-less tube, through which electricity is passed. The negatively charged electrode is heated up as electricity passes through it and as a result, high energy electrons are released. These electrons are directed towards the metal anode plate at high velocity and as they strike the atoms of the plate, X-rays are generated.

Beneath it, there is a filter that focuses the x-rays on the specific area of examination. The x-rays pass through this and are directed towards the body part.

The X-RAY Plate

X-rays that easily pass through the surface of the body tissues, result in darkening the spot on the X-ray plate as they hit the surface; whereas those that are absorbed by the hard tissues lighten the X-ray plate. This light and
dark combination on the X-ray plate presents a 2-D image of the area of your body.

Are x-rays safe?

Although the x-rays are invisible and thus can’t be seen or felt on the body, however, they still fall under the category of radiation. Therefore, if done frequently,  it has the possibility of harming the skin.

Fun Facts

  • When William Roentgen discovered the X-ray in 1895, he had no idea what it was except that it was a type of electromagnetic radiation. So he simply called it X-ray and that is what we call it even to this day.
  • Many of the telescopes use x-rays to spot many celestial bodies in space!

Related questions

Some related questions to this topic.

  1. What are some of the other uses of x-rays?
  2. Are x-ray images always accurate?
  3. When was the first-ever x-ray procedure carried out?

Objective Quiz

Here are some questions you’d like to answer to test your knowledge.

1. X-rays are:

  • Invisible
  • Transparent
  • Opaque

2. Bones in the body:

  • Reflect x-rays
  • Divert x-rays
  • Absorb x-rays

3. X-ray scans are done to check:

  • All body parts
  • Bones and tissues
  • Heart and lungs

4. ‘X’ in x-rays stands for:

  • Dangerous radiation
  • Healthy radiation
  • Unknown radiation

5. Which of the following places use x-rays in their work?

  • Hospitals
  • Airports
  • Both

True Or False

  1. Bones turn black in x-ray images. (True/False)
  2. The outer layer of skin allows x-rays to penetrate them. (True/False)
  3. X-rays are made to pass in the open air. (True/False)
  4.  X-rays are mostly harmless, except if overused. (True/False)
  5. X-rays become a useful procedure in treating fever. (True/False)

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