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The Differences Between X-Ray and Ultrasound

While both X-Ray and Ultrasound are non-evasive methods of gathering images from inside the body, the methods of both are dramatically different and used for imaging specific internal structures.

Primary Uses of X-Ray

X-Ray is one of the most widely used methods of examining the body and has been for over 100 years. With continuous innovation to the technology, X-Ray is now possible with minimal risk to the patient while offering clear images of the body for technicians.

X-Ray is used mostly for examining bone structures. The images created by an X-Ray show the body in different shades of black and white. The tissues inside the body absorb different amounts of radiation – calcium inside bones absorbs X-Rays the most, so bones look white. Fat and other soft tissues absorb less, so they appear grey. Air absorbs no X-Rays, so lungs look black.

While X-Rays are primarily used for broken bones, they are also used for other reasons. Chest X-Rays can spot pneumonia, and mammograms use X-Rays to look for breast cancer.

Primary Uses of Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are similar to X-Rays, however they have some crucial differences that patients need to know. Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the body. These sound waves created reflected sounds, or echoes, that are recorded, compiled and then displayed on a monitor. Because the sound waves used are such a high-frequency, they cannot be heard by the human ear.

Ultrasounds are favored for examining soft structures inside the body, including abdominal and pelvic organs, muscles and tendons, or the heart and blood vessels.

Unlike X-Ray, Ultrasound procedures use no radiation to examine the body, making it perfect for examining developing fetus’s, or damaged organs. It also makes it preferable for examining children or elderly.

Ultrasound is a procedure that has many applications, and can be used to examine almost any part of the body. There’s no down-time from Ultrasound exams, and while this is true for X-Ray as well, the concern of radiation exposure and possible long-term side effects makes Ultrasound the favorable procedure for those who need continuous examination.

Other Types of Diagnostic Imaging

Patients have many options for the type of imaging they can get. While Ultrasounds and X-Rays are commonplace, there’s also Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) Scans.

Both these procedures are used for creating more detailed images of structures within the body, and they both have their advantages and weaknesses.

Are you needing professional diagnostic imaging services? Contact CDC today! We offer private MRI’s, walk-in X-Rays, and Ultrasound procedures at any of our Calgary or Edmonton clinics! Call 1.888.971.5602 to learn more.