X-rays are one of the most essential diagnostic tools an orthopedic specialist uses. They’re indispensable for evaluating broken bones and other types of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.
As you might imagine, the quality of the x-ray images is crucial. State-of-the-art digital x-ray equipment is important, of course, but the most critical factor for producing the clearest images is the radiologic technologist (or “rad tech”) operating the equipment. And trust us, there is much more to taking an x-ray than “point and shoot.”
One of a rad tech’s most important skills is the proper positioning of a patient for the best view. Some patients, depending on their condition, body habitus, and other factors, can present a challenge. In these cases, experience makes a big difference. With an expeditious assessment of the patient — and some resourcefulness — an experienced rad tech can quickly position the patient for the best possible x-ray images.
But the true test of a rad tech is how they care for the patient. During the process of positioning the patient for the best view, an experienced rad tech can anticipate any potential discomfort or pain the process might cause, and adjust their approach based on those needs.
“If the patient will be uncomfortable on the table, we will take the x-ray a different way, standing, or in a wheelchair, or chair. We can work around their needs,” says Radiology Supervisor Elaine Casey, who has been at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center since 2006.
Keeping the patient calm can be another challenge. Every patient is different, and their anxiety level can range from nervousness to paralyzing fear. They may have had a painful experience getting an x-ray in the past, or maybe they just got out of surgery. Whatever their circumstance might be, the confidence displayed by an experienced rad tech is remarkably reassuring to patients.
Getting the x-ray done correctly the first time helps, also. “We don’t struggle or stumble to get an x-ray properly,” says Elaine.
Our team of five radiologic technologists — with over 100 years of combined experience — takes pride in not only providing our orthopedic specialists the highest-quality x-rays, but also doing it quickly, getting it right the first time, and in the process, keeping our patients as calm and comfortable as possible.