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Sarah L Rhoades, DVM

Providing quality veterinary services for horses in the greater Franklin County, Missouri area.

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What is Radiography? And Why Digital?

Radiography is the process of creating an image using high frequency energy called 'X-rays.' While the chemical reactions that actually occur are far from simple, it is fair to compare the process to that of film photography - where 'energy,' be it light or x-rays, strike a film, resulting in varying degrees of chemical reactions that result in the image you see. In the case of radiography, or X-rays as you may know them by, the energy beam directed at the subject of interest can penetrate soft tissue and highlight the bone underneath giving us a visual picture of the skeleton.

The process of developing X-ray films, involves various chemicals to develop and fix the image, also very similar to photography - this can be done by hand or with a machine that automatically performs the operation, but both processes require the use of a dark room. Conventional radiography in the equine setting was therefore limited in that an image could not be obtained directly on the farm, but required returning films to the clinic for development. Poor images and views could not be immediately retaken but required additional trips.

Technology advances (also far from simple!) allow us to skip the development processes for an immediate image in seconds. In Digital Radiography the image is directly taken as a digital image - an X-ray beam aimed at the subject of interest, strikes a plate that causes components to vibrate and generate a signal that our computer interprets as an image. Advance computer programming results in an image that is much clearer and easier to interpret than its conventional predecessor. 

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