Conventional (also called analog, plain-film or projectional) radiography is a fundamental diagnostic imaging tool in the detection and diagnosis of diseases. X-rays reveal differences in tissue structures using attenuation or absorption of x-ray photons by materials with high density (like calcium-rich bones).|
Basically, a projection or conventional radiograph shows differences between bones, air and sometimes fat, which makes it particularly useful to asses bone conditions and chest pathologies. Low natural contrast between adjacent structures of similar radiographic density requires the use of contrast media to enhance the contrast.
In conventional radiography, the patient is placed between an x-ray tube and a film or detector, sensitive for x-rays. The choice of film and intensifying screen (which indirectly exposes the film) influence the contrast resolution and spatial resolution. Chemicals are needed to process the film and are often the source of errors and retakes. The result is a fixed image that is difficult to manipulate after radiation exposure. The images may be also visualized on fluoroscopic screens, movies or computer monitors.
X-rays emerge as a diverging conical beam from the focal spot of the x-ray tube. For this reason, the radiographic projection produces a variable degree of distortion. This effect decreases with increased source to object distance relative to the object to film distance, and by using a collimator, which let through parallel x-rays only.
Conventional radiography has the disadvantage of a lower contrast resolution. Compared with computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), it has the advantage of a higher spatial resolution, is inexpensive, easy to use, and widely available. Conventional radiography can give high quality results if the technique selected is proper and adequate. X-ray systems and radioactive isotopes such as Iridium-192 and Cobalt-60 for generating penetrating radiation, are also used in non-destructive testing.
See also Computed Radiography and Digital Radiography.
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