A radiograph, commonly called an x-ray, is a black and white two-dimensional image of the interior of a body. An image is generated by passing radiation through a particular structure or area, such as the chest or a limb, and the image is then captured. The traditional way of recording the image is on specific x-ray film that senses how much radiation passes through the structure and reaches the film, much like photographic film captures light. The denser a tissue is (such as bone), the whiter the image is on the film. Less dense structures, such as air in the lungs, allow almost all of the x-ray energy to pass through to the film, turning that area black.
At Dunckel Veterinary Hosptial we use digital radiography. The principles are similar, but the images are captured on a digital recording device and displayed on a computer screen. No x-ray film is used. These images are easy to store as well as to transmit to other hospitals, or to copy to send home with pet owners. These systems are more expensive than the traditional film systems. Digital images can be adjusted for contrast and enlarged. Often this leads to few radiographs being taken and less radiation for your pet.
Regardless of whether the images are on film or digital, radiography is the most common and readily available imaging test in veterinary practice. It is used to evaluate the size and shape of organs such as the heart and lungs, as well as to demonstrate fractures (broken bones), some foreign objects, fluid accumulations, and many more abnormalities that may aid in diagnosis.