How does DR X-ray technology work?

DR X-ray Technology: what is it and how does it work? 


The two main components of a DR X-ray system are a receptor panel, which captures X-rays and a computer with in-built software that allows the converted X-ray image to be viewed, optimized and annotated on screen.

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DR X-ray technology are a key piece of diagnostic imaging equipment in both small animal and equine veterinary practice. Improvements  in portability, image quality and faster speed of acquisition mean that vets can not only obtain better quality, diagnostic images but they can save valuable time with a much quicker and more efficient process. 

Types of DR Technology Available:

There are different types of DR X-ray technology available, with 3 main categories being used in veterinary practice: 

Charge-coupled devices

Although some charge-couple devices can be found in veterinary practices, the images they create can be of poor quality and as such they are not commonly used. The difference between this type of technology and more modern technology is that the receptor plate is deeper than the DR plates found more often in veterinary practice. 

During the X-ray imaging process, these systems create the X-ray image on a large plate, which is then transformed into a digital image. The one downside to this type of technology is that image quality normally deteriorates during the transfer to a digital image. 

The same technology is used for fluoroscopy systems (also known as C-arms), and the images are ideal if you require a moving image. 

Direct Digital

Direct Digital technology is more commonly found in veterinary practices. This technology uses flat-panel detectors to capture the X-rays and in recent years flat panel manufacturers have continued to innovate, creating panels that are much thinner - reducing in size from approx 5cm in depth to only 1.5cm, making them much lighter and more easily transported. 

There are two types of flat panel:

  • Indirect flat panel

These contain a layer of glass coated in a scintillator substance - normally caesium iodide or gadolinium dioxide sulphide. When X-ray radiation comes into contact with this layer of glass, it emits light. This light is then captured by the amorphous silicon detector within the panel and converted into a digital image. 

  • Direct flat panel
These don’t have the light-emitting layer and instead radiation hitting the detector is converted directly into a digital image. This layer is normally made of amorphous selenium.

Clarox DR X-ray System-1Carestream DRX

Indirect flat panels are more sensitive to radiation and further advances in technology has improved the quality of the images obtained with these panels. 

Manufacturers continue to innovate and we have began to see new panels being developed and produced that don't contain glass, something that could be of benefit to equine vets in particular! 

A DR plate is a highly advanced piece of technology which brings a multitude of benefits to both patient, user and practice. They are built to be used but it is always good to remember to treat them with respect and a little TLC to ensure they will be serving you for many years to come.

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