Medical x-ray machines can be divided into several types. Although principally used to locate and visually represent skeletal lesions such as breaks and smaller-scale fractures, they can also pinpoint the location of malignant and benign tumours and identify pockets of gas in the lungs. Broadly, based on procedures, they can be grouped into the following categories:
The classical medical use of the x-ray machine persists today in radiography, which uses x-rays to diagnose and evaluate the pneumonias, various tumours, foreign objects introduced by trauma (wounding) or ingestion, and damage to bony structures.
Computed Tomography (CT)
This equipment uses computerised x-ray image intensifying technology to produce high-resolution, cross-sectional X-ray images of the body. Advanced software converts these x-rays 3D images of objects such as internal lesions, deformities and tumours. Vastly more detailed than ordinary x-rays, CT images can provide surgeons with accurate visual data on the precise location and dimensions of tumours and can assist in the planning of radiotherapy.
An x-ray machine used in fluoroscopy procedures provides a kind of “x-ray movie” of an organ or body region, giving an accurate picture of the movement of a dye through the area under examination. Typical procedures include barium meal and barium enema fluoroscopy to assess structural abnormalities in the gastro-intestinal tract, angioplasty and angiography, catheter insertions and vascular fluoroscopy to examine blood flows to organs and to locate arterial plaques or the best location of stents.
These machines produce “mammograms” or images of internal breast structures, which can help detect the early onset of breast cancers, often when the tumour is too small to be physically palpated. Through early detection, mammography equipment can substantially improve the treatability of breast cancer.
Radiotherapy x-ray machines can be used to target a beam of x-rays onto malignant tumours and help in the treatment of various cancers.