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Radiography is defined as the use of X-rays in viewing cross sections of non-uniformly composed material, for example, the human body. It involves the utilization of the physical properties of the ray so that an image can be developed. The X-rays that pass through are captured by a detector which gives a 2D illustration of all the structures. Radiography has been used for medical applications for quite some time. Treatment involving the use of radiation is called radiotherapy (Herman 2009).
Radiographers use the x-rays to create images of body parts and organs for diagnostic functions. Their roles vary depending on the type of x-ray that a patient needs. They detect disease and broken bones. The different types of images include: fluoroscopy, MRI, x-ray and ultrasound. In taking an x-ray, the radiographer positions the patient and explains the procedure to them. They then use the x-ray machine to take internal pictures which will allow the radiographer to look through the tissues and examine their bones. They can also identify any foreign object in a patient's body and look through the body cavities. The machine used in fluoroscopy produces images in the digestive system of a patient. It is usually used with a live motion x-ray machine. In the same time, an angiograph can be used to examine blood vessels. A computed tomography (CT) is used by radiographers to create 3D images showing the internal part of the body. The computer then splits the images into slices to show much more tiny details about the body. The scans from CT aid the doctors in diagnosing cancer and other serious diseases (Bushberg 2001).
Radiographers use the magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) to develop a 3D map of body tissues. The machines usually build a 2D or 3D map of the different types of the tissues in the body which radiographers can then use to determine if a tissue is either normal or abnormal. The use of ultrasound machine is to check circulation in the human body. It is used to examine organs such as the heart. It involves the use of high frequency sound waves in order to produce pictures of the internal part of the body. Jones (1997) asserts that the ultrasound machine is very important to radiographers because they can use it to observe the health of an unborn child. Mammography is the X-ray examination of soft tissues like breasts. It has been used by women to screen for breast cancer, and in viewing male's breasts. The radiation in mammography is softer that that used for harder tissues. Dental radiation involves the use of a small radiation with a high penetration because teeth are relatively dense. As such, a dentist can use X-ray equipments to examine teeth and gum.
According to Watson (1999), radiologic technology can be defined as the science involving the use of x-rays for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes. The radiographer performs the examination which creates the images needed for diagnosis. Radiography entails scientific knowledge and the technical skills required to provide quality patient care and important diagnostic information. Radiographers must exhibit an understanding of human anatomy, pathology and physiology, not forgetting the medical terms. They must be highly accurate in radiographic positioning and the technique exposure. Radiographers link patients and radiologists. As such, they should remain sensitive to both physical and emotional needs of the patient. They should also involve ethical judgment and critical thinking while at work. The provision of customer service and quality improvement allows radiographers to become an accountable part of the health care team by assessing professional performance.
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Today's healthcare environment is changing every now and then. Computers have been applied so as to advance future healthcare reception of technology developments from medical imaging. There is a rapid evolution of imaging and IT with the transition to filmless imaging. Health professionals in this field should be accountable and autonomous. According to Herman (2009), professional accountability refers to the fact that the practitioner should be accountable for their own actions and the outcomes. It is important that ethics and legal implications of accountability be understood by radiographers. Being autonomous means a professional should be able to utilize their professional judgment. This means that a radiographer is free to decide on anything based on their professional knowledge and expertise. They should not be under any pressure whatsoever. Radiographers perform some advanced roles within their current normal responsibilities.
In conclusion, radiography is a profession that changes due to technological advances and demand for change driven by shortages in personnel within the healthcare system. Some radiographers have utilized their skill and expertise so as to increase the expertise available to patients, thus improving the health care of patients. The role of radiographers expands, and so does the potential for risks. As such, they must care for patients appropriately and comply with code of professional conduct. Each health professional is still accountable and responsible for their actions legally. Threats that could arise through radiographers' role expanding include medico-legal implications, financial constraints, and the release of personnel for training.
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