X-rays were first discovered through a mistake. In 1895, a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen made the discovery while doing an experiment that involved electron beams in a gas discharge tube. Although he is not the first one to observe X-ray effects, he is given credit as the discoverer of the X-ray, despite the amount of earlier researchers. Medical professionals use X-rays to spot fractures, infections and tumors. There are different types of X-rays like CAT scan and fluoroscopy, but the “regular” X-rays include the chest X-ray and abdominal X-ray. The very common chest X-ray can be used to identify lung diseases including pneumonia and lung cancer, and the abdominal X-ray can be used to identify intestinal obstruction and free air. Traditional regular X-rays are not useful in imaging soft tissues such as the brain or muscles. They are more commonly used in dentistry as they are useful in diagnosing common oral problems like cavity.
Although the medical uses of X-rays to examine a patient without surgery became an amazing medical breakthrough, X-rays have negative side effects due to its use of radiation. X-rays are so powerful that they can knock electrons off of atoms which lead to the production of ions that produce abnormal chemical reactions in the body. X-rays can also lead to DNA mutation which can cause birth defects or disease. Despite these negatives, the National Academy of Sciences has stated that the benefits of diagnosis through X-rays outweigh the possible risks of using X-rays. To ensure safety, however, professionals are specifically trained to take precautions such as placing lead over certain areas on the body.
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