Typically when you visited an orthopedic surgeon in the past, x-rays were obtained by a machine that projected energy onto a film which was then developed and a picture obtained. More recently, new developments in technology have made it possible for x-rays to be displayed digitally on a computer screen. There are several important benefits to this newer type of technology.
First of all, it shortens the process from taking the film to having the film available to view which decreases wait times. Secondly, the image can be manipulated on the computer to lighten or darken the projection, enlarge or enhance detail, and the digital image can be transported from computer to computer and stored in files making review much more convenient. It is now possible to look at a current x-ray and side-by-side compare it on the computer screen with x-rays that have been taken in the past making subtle changes more obvious. The files can be placed on a CD, given to the patient, and transported by the patient to other healthcare providers and/or electronically sent making portability of healthcare and patient data more available.
All of these factors improve the patient’s care and communication between physicians to allow more rapid discussion of treatment options.
William P. Barrett, M.D.