A Case for Digital Radiography (DR)

With Digital Radiography (otherwise known as DR or digital x-ray), less radiation exposure is needed to produce similar (or better) quality x-ray images than film. DR is said to reduce radiation exposure by as much as 70% when compared to conventional film x-ray. What’s more, DR can be used to screen, diagnose, and treat medical conditions while also providing a number of benefits, which are not necessarily easy to see with the naked eye. Some of these benefits associated with DR are postprocessing, image archiving, access to images, and image distribution capabilities.

How is this possible? For starters, DR often utilizes amorphous silicon and cesium iodide (CsI) flat panel detectors. The use of these materials in digital panels is known to reduce radiation by at least 50%. Just ask the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which claims “using digital imaging detectors instead of film further reduces radiation dose.” Not only does it decrease exposure, but it significantly reduces the patients’ exposure to radiation without degradation to image quality.

DR has a wider dynamic range, which enables x-ray operators to vary exposure levels. As long as the reduction in signal-to-noise ratio is acceptable and resulting image quality is sufficient for diagnostic purposes, patient radiation dose can be decreased. Additionally, DR systems are more flexible in that they have the ability to match imaging requirements much more readily than screen-film x-ray.

An article from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) also seems to advocate quite nicely for DR. In fact, ASRT has said, “[t]he use of digital image receptors can result in lower radiation than the use of film-screen image receptors [and can do so] without loss of image quality.” Other industry sources have been making similar claims for nearly two decades. In 2004, AuntMinnie.com reported that “Digital Radiography (DR) delivers lower radiation dose to patients than either conventional x-ray or Computed Radiography (CR) systems.” You can read a great comparison of CR and DR here.

Call it Digital Radiography, DR or digital x-ray. This technology is superior to earlier diagnostic imaging technologies. DR can provide reduced radiation dose, exceptional image quality, and results that both patients and practitioners can appreciate.

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