Why a radiograph and x ray are not the same thing

Many, many people and dental professionals incorrectly use the term x ray when referring to a radiograph.  I am quite the nitpick on this and other terminology, which drives my students up the walls from time to time.  I’m not sure why or how everyone learned to incorrectly identify a radiograph as an x ray.  The difference between the two comes down to definitions of the two words.

An x ray is a photon of energy.  This is what is exposing the patient for the final image.  This is not the final image and x rays cannot be seen by the naked eye, unless you are Superman.  🙂   (Fun fact: the x in x ray is from the algebraic x for unknown, when Wilhelm Rontgen discovered x rays he labeled it as such assuming down the road someone would discover more about them and correctly identify it as something else than an x ray.)

A radiograph is the resultant image after a patient or object is exposed to x rays.

I realize that many people are set in their ways and will refuse to change their verbiage.  That’s fine with me, but be prepared should you say x ray instead of radiograph I will correct you.  😛

Should you care to discuss with me why you choose to say one or the other, I’m always open to hear others comments.

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About Dr. Shawneen Gonzalez

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist having fun finding cool things on radiographs. :)

Posted on August 11, 2011, in Radiology terminology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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