X-Ray is a fantastic technology that has revolutionized different industries. It has changed and improved various aspects of life, including medicine and product manufacturing, among others. An array of technological advancements have been made in this industry, such that now we have digital X-rays.
In this guide, we will strive to focus on digital X-ray, commonly known as digital radiography. You will learn everything that you need to know about this technology.
What is Digital X-Ray?
At this point, I can confidently assume that you have some solid clue on what an X-ray is. Now, we can view digital X-rays as the digital version of the conventional radiography process. To bring the point closer home, we can compare these two to the camera technology. Here we had the traditional cameras and the modern digital cameras.
Digital X-rays cuts out the need for using films when producing X-ray images. Instead, the whole process is digitized. These entail core activities such as creation, editing, storage and transfer of the films.
Simply defined, digital radiography is a type of X-ray imaging that entails the generation of x-ray images on a computer. The process happens in real-time in that you don’t have to sit and wait for the film to be created and produced.
In digital radiography, data is captured by plates that are highly sensitive to X-rays. Since the capturing is real-time, the images are directly sent from the plates to the computer for processing, editing and storage.
The X-ray radiation on the plate is converted to the equivalent electric charge before it is again transformed back to the radiation. The process repeatedly continues until you get a clear image of the object that you want.
It may be difficult to spot physical differences between the digital X-ray and the conventional X-ray when it comes to the physical outlook of the equipment used. But in reality, there are some underlying differences that you should take note of with regards to these two types of X-ray machines.
The conventional X-ray utilizes a film to detect the image that should be processed and analyzed. On the other hand, digital x-rays are designed to create digital images just like digital cameras do. This image will then be saved in digital forms such as JPEG.
What is the History of Digital X-Ray?
Where did the digital X-ray come from, and how was this idea conceived? There is a brief history behind the evolution of digital radiography.
While the idea behind X-ray technology was conceived in the 1900s, we cannot state the same about digital radiography. Digital X-rays started gaining some ground in the 1970s. This was the period when digital cameras had started gaining some significant popularity. It was at this period that the universe was undergoing some form of a digital revolution.
The digital X-ray started courting attention from diverse fields. In the health sector, both the small and large hospitals were keen on trying out the effects of digital radiography. Today, we have computer radiography and digital radiography systems that are used in different facilities.
It is also worth to note that most of the inventions surrounding digital radiography happened when personal computers became affordable to most people. This means that more people could dedicate their efforts towards coming up with digital products.
The invention of the computed tomography (CT) marked a significant step towards the development of digital radiography. That was in 1967, and it catapulted the development of the first digital imaging application.
Later on, a shift from analog to digital technology paved a straightforward way for further digital X-ray products.
Another factor that catapulted the growth was the invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in 1970. It paved the path for deeper studies on digital radiography, especially after it was approved for humans.
Major transformations in digital radiography were witnessed in the 1990s. That was when it was discovered that one could record the X-ray images on the phosphor screens. This invention formed the basis of the modern world’s computer radiography systems.
The advent of the internet marked another stride towards the innovation and growth of digital radiography. It enhanced communication between the parties that were researching digital radiography. Different researchers shared vital information on the developments that were used for developing digital X-ray products.
Further developments provided different storage options for saving the digital radiography images. Players could save them in the form of the modern-day JPEG format, among other options.
The internet also made it easier for different users to send the X-ray images that have been digitally generated. The image could also be sent n real-time, at the point of image creation.
On the other hand, the cost of computer hardware has been going down significantly. On the other hand, more sophisticated pieces of hardware have been invented. Such developments have enhanced the affordability and accessibility of digital radiography. More researchers and organizations can afford it and utilize it for their different needs.
Today, digital radiography has proven to be very effective when it comes to taking X-ray images. More research and development is still undertaken on this technology to make it a go-to solution for people who need X-ray services.
Difference Between Digital Radiography and Computed Radiography
Computed Radiography (CR) has been in use for many years before the invention of the digital X-ray. Both methods require the use of computer technology to process and store images. However, they differ in terms of their modes of operation.
Digital radiography uses flat panel detectors to transform the X-rays into digital images for processing. On the other hand, computed radiography utilizes phosphor-based materials for image processing and storage.
Take note that the process in digital X-ray is digitized right from the detection of the rays as we advance. Also, each of these two types of X-rays has advantages and disadvantages.
How Digital X-ray Works
Now let’s have an overview of the working mechanism of the digital radiography system. This imaging process is divided into four distinct stages. These are;
- Image generation
- Image processing
- Image archiving
- Image presentation
A unique set of processes characterizes each stage, and different components are involved in executing it.
The video below highlights how the whole digital radiography works.
Image generation and image processing
Image generation marks the beginning of the digital X-ray process. Once the target object is laid in the desired position, the X-ray beams are absorbed and converted into electrical charges. The grayscale images in digital form will represent these charges. Also, it is easy to quantify the charges that have been absorbed.
Keep in mind that the X-ray beams, which at this point have been converted into charges, are easily detectable. Special application software is used to detect and process the images until you have a final print.
Here, the ultimate goal is to improve the quality. It cuts out the noise and other artifacts that are likely to degrade the image quality. Processing also plays an essential role in boosting the contrast of the image. It makes it easier for people to analyze and interpret the image to develop accurate and comprehensive conclusions.
Image archiving and presentation
After the processing, it is then prepared for the presentation to the relevant parties. Keep in mind that the image must exist in digital form. The processed image is enlarged and calibrated to have different measurements.
Archiving makes it possible to transfer the image from one digital media to another. This explains why digital radiography is ideal for remote imaging. The process lasts for a few seconds, and after that, the images will be ready for storage and sharing.
While in the archiving stage, you can prepare the image for presentation to the concerned parties.
The working mechanism of the digital X-ray system depends on the flat-panel detectors. Flat-panel detectors, commonly known as digital detector arrays (DDAs), are designed to deliver high-quality digital images compared to conventional imaging equipment or computed X-ray systems.
Another desirable feature of the flat panel detectors is they deliver a high signal-to-noise ratio. This implies that they have a powerful noise cancellation feature that increases the contrast of the digital image.
Flat-panel detectors are designed to absorb a significant quantity of photons during digital X-ray image processing. More photons result in the formation of dense images hence quality images.
There are two main types of flat-panel detectors. These are;
- Indirect conversion flat panel detectors
- Direct panel flat panel detectors
This flat panel detector has a scintillator layer whose primary function is to convert the X-ray photons into light photons. In doing so, it makes the photons visible for image generation. These photos will then be transformed into electrical charges with the help of a photodiode matrix.
Other than the scintillators, the I direct flat conversion panel has different layers such as gadolinium and the amorphous silicon photodiode layer and Thin t Transistor Film (TFT).
The primary role of the TFT layer is to magnify the processed image. Its size is usually the same as that of the photographed surface area.
Direct conversion flat panel
This is another type of flat panel detector of the digital radiograph. It works with the TFT layers to collect and store the electric charges. This is a critical component that improves the efficiency and performance of the X-ray machine.
Direct conversion flat panel has a high affinity to high resolution even with the low supply of X-ray radiation. This feature improves the ability of the machine to produce high-contrast images.
The image below gives a summary of how the X-ray machine works
Advantages and Benefits of Digital X-Ray
Digital X-ray has been quite popular since their invention. Here are some of the top advantages that have led to the massive popularity of this technology.
Since X-ray imaging is usually used in sensitive application areas, we will always wish to get quality output from the process. This is precisely what you can achieve with digital radiography machines. They have certain features that can be optimized to produce quality imaging.
Let’s be frank on this; traditional X-ray machines are expensive to use. Several aspects of the production such as filming time, equipment to use, chemicals for the film, and even a special darkroom make the whole process expensive. You can eliminate all these unnecessary costs by opting for digital X-ray machines.
Minimum exposure to the radiation
Digital radiography enhances a safe working environment as it reduces one’s exposure to X-ray radiation. One way the system achieves this goal is by cutting down the number of required retakes when filming the X-rays. Also, X-ray machines have sensors that are highly responsive to radiation.
Easy to use
Digital X-ray machines are not sophisticated machines. Simple designs and construction characterize them. They also feature a user-friendly interface that you can efficiently operate. You won’t require specialized training to handle and use digital X-ray machines.
Applications of Digital X-Ray
Digital radiography has a wide range of applications, including but not limited to;
- Medical fields. Here, X-ray machines are used to diagnose injuries and conditions on the external and internal parts of the body.
- Detection of foreign objects
- Product development in significant manufacturing industries
- Aerospace when inspecting the surface of the aircrafts
- Detection of flow in pipelines
- Casting and welding
- Detection of corrosion and physical damage
What do you intend to use digital X-rays for? Let’s talk, and we will see how we can help you get a suitable digital radiography machine for the job.
It is impossible to underestimate the digital revolution that has taken place in the world of radiography. The revolution has given us digital X-rays that can be used for both small-scale and large-scale applications.
At Unixray, we design and manufacture digital X-ray machines for different applications. Whether you are in the medical or manufacturing fields and looking for digital radiography systems, we are the people you should contact. We offer digital X-ray and other radiography solutions that will be relevant in your industry.