Screen Film vs. Digital Processing

Screen Film vs. Digital Processing

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“X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen, a professor who was working on emissions from electric currents in vacuums. While working, he discovered a glow from the barium platinocyanide coated screen. He continued to experiment and landed the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901” (Bansal, 2006). Over the years, many improvements have been made to Roentgen’s discovery and radiography is offered in every hospital around the world.
Nowadays, there are many different types of imaging we can do. These include fluoroscopy, CT scan, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound. Fluoroscopy’s significant use is it intensifies the image during orthopedic, vascular, urological procedures. It is also used for dynamic radiographic investigations. “CT is useful for evaluating soft tissue involvement of lesions or determining the extent of fractures. In general, CT is useful to add to the anatomic or pathologic information already obtained by conventional radiography” (Bontrager & Lampignano, 2010). “Nuclear medicine is more sensitive and generally provides earlier evidence than other modalities because it assesses the physiologic aspect rather than the anatomic aspect of these conditions. Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials to diagnose and treat disease” (Nuclear Medicine, 2013). “Ultrasound can be used in several different ways such as monitoring an unborn baby, diagnosing a condition or guiding a surgeon during certain procedures by using sound waves” (Ultrasound, 2011).
An important change came about with the development and common use of computer technology. “Such use of a filmless radiology department was very interesting to this medical field. Digital radiography was introduced in the mid 1980’s and now competes with screen film radiography in all radiographic applications” (Bansal, 2006).
Radiographs are essentially used for the diagnosis of many different diseases and injuries. “They have many different advantages such as their low cost, for the most part non-invasive nature, easy availability, relatively harmless, and fast imaging times. Put all this together with a clear, perfectly contrasted image it is no wonder why we use it” (Bansal, 2006).
Screen film radiography is still used more commonly than digital radiography. “Although there is a declining of popularity of screen film radiography mainly because there is limited potential for reducing dose to the patient. Also, unlike digital radiography, images cannot be changed in contrast once they have been processed. In screen film radiography, film is expensive, uses hazardous materials for processing, is very strenuous and long term storage is difficult. Lastly, screen film radiography is not compatible with the picture archiving and communication systems also known as PACS” (Bansal, 2006).

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“In digital radiography, there are different forms. One, computed radiography, uses a photostimulable phosphor plate for detection of x-rays instead of the conventional film screen. Next, the exposed plate is scanned with a laser and the emitted light is captured and converted to an analogue electrical system, which is then digitized. Another form of digital radiography is direct radiography in which a sensor converts x-ray energy into electrical signals” (Bansal, 2006).
“In digital imaging phosphor plates are two to four times faster than film screens. A higher efficiency implies a lesser dose of x-rays required. The image quality in a digital system depends on the quality of the x-ray equipment, applied dose, pixel size and depth, signal to noise ratio, and dynamic range” (Bansal, 2006).
“A reason in which screen film radiography still carries on in current radiologic practices is because of the resolution and familiarity of the medical profession. The high resolution makes it useful to diagnose undisplaced fractures” (Bansal, 2006).
“Computed radiography has other advantages too, like having all the component processes individually and separate, which in turn, leads to more advantages such as reusable image plates, ability to process images after attainment and sharing images over networks electronically. Also, there is much less space needed to store images and quicker access for later references. Screen film is subject to loss through storage and the images could deteriorate with time – which does not constitute a problem for digital images. Lastly, processing enables the technologist to change the images’ optical density after the image has already been captured and permitting less exposure to the patient by not having to retake the image” (Bansal, 2006).



Works Cited

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imaging. In NCBI. Retrieved December 1, 2013, from
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Bontrager, K. L., & Lampignano, J. P. (2010). Radiographic Positioning and Related
Anatomy (Eighth ed.).


St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. About Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging. (2013). In
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2013, from http://www.snm.org/index.cfm?PageID=3106

Ultrasound scan - What it is used for. (2011). In NHS Choices. Retrieved December 2,
2013, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Ultrasound-scan/Pages/What-is-it-used-
for.aspx

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