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The risks associated with ionizing radiation in medical imaging practice, and the precaution required to protect against them - Assignment Example

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THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH IONIZING RADIATION IN MEDICAL IMAGING PRACTICE, AND THE PRECAUTION REQUIRED TO PROTECT AGAINST THEM Introduction In the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum the portion that represents sufficient energy that is enough to pass through matter and actually extricate orbital electrons to form charged ions is termed as ionizing radiation…
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The risks associated with ionizing radiation in medical imaging practice, and the precaution required to protect against them
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Download file to see previous pages However, the shorter wave length, higher frequency waves such as X-rays and gamma rays are used in the medical imaging techniques and can be biologically fatal (WHO, 2011) (Figure 1). Ionizing radiation can be categorized into two forms. The first one is the radiation in the form of EM wave, such as an x-ray or gamma ray and the second one is the radiation in form of particle, such as an alpha or beta particle, neutron, or proton (DeLima Associates 1993, 1-48). X-rays are radiations that are artificially generated using machine. Gamma rays are EM waves that are released from the nucleus of an unsteady atom. The various forms of ionizing radiation have different effect on the biological systems (Holmes, White and Gaffney, 2011). However, these radiations are of great use in the medical science and have contributed significantly in medical imaging practice. This paper highlights the risks linked with the use of ionizing radiation in medical imaging practice and the necessary precautions that needs to be taken while handling it. Roentgen was the person who discovered X-rays in the year 1895. Since then the use of ionizing radiation in medicine expanded (Holmes, White and Gaffney, 2011). Today, medical science uses both ionizing and non-ionizing radiations in imaging techniques. The ultrasound uses the acoustic pulses for echo-ranging imaging or in case of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) radio-waves are combined with high-field magnets to produce images. Both ultrasound and MRI make use of non-ionizing radiations. On the other hand the medical imaging techniques that use ionizing radiation consist of those images produced by the use of x-rays or gamma rays. Both x-rays and gamma rays are high energy, short wave-length EM radiation that can penetrate through almost all tissues. Gamma rays are produced as a result of nuclear decays of radioactive tracers that are introduced into the body and x-rays come from x-ray tube in which high speed electrons are bombarded to a small spot on a tungsten anode target. When radiation passes through the body, it is differentially captivated by tissues. For example, calcium is abundantly present in the body and has a higher atomic weight when compared to hydrogen that forms a major component of tissue water. Therefore, the ionizing radiation is taken up differently in different parts of the tissue. In this process if the tissue atoms are ionized, they become chemically reactive and can cause serious cell damage. Therefore, when these medical imaging techniques are inevitably used precautions need to be taken. One of the most common imaging techniques is the X-rays which is highly useful diagnostically by both computed tomography and film (Yale University School of Medicine 2004). All of us at some point of time have an x-ray examination that aids the physicians’ to diagnose disease or damage in the body structure. In another diagnostic procedure the radionuclides are administered to patients and with the help of detectors outside the body, the functioning of the organs can be observed. Hence when the physicians need to get an idea of any problem inside the body, they use one of these imaging procedures. In general the radiation doses used in these imaging processes are low. Figure 2 shows the average radiation dose of common radiographic procedures. If we compare the radiation dose that is used in imaging with that used in the treatment of malignant ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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