Indications for use of radiographs  


As bones are well seen radiographically, x-rays are a great way to evaluate for bone pathology. Internal structure of bone can even be seen. The outer edge of long bones, called the cortex, is more dense than the inner portion, the medulla. Disruptions of the cortex, as occurs in fractures, are readily seen on x-ray.

The hand radiograph on the right reveals an acute fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone; the arrow points to the fracture site. The smooth outer edge of the bone is disrupted at the site of the break. Note the bone distal to the break is angulated anteriorly. This is known as a "boxers" fracture, as the mechanism of injury is usually a punch, where the force is transmitted to the 5th metacarpal bone. Click here to see a magnified view.

In addition to fractures, radiography is an excellent way to evaluate the bones for focal lesions like tumors or infections. Other indications for use include evaluation of joint spaces for infection, arthritis, and disclocations.