How Do X-Ray Machines Work?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 27, 2020 8:56:26 AM ET
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X-ray machines work by generating an electrical current or voltage, which is then projected through an X-ray tube to produce a series of X-ray waves, which either pass through objects or are absorbed by the surrounding material. X-ray machines essentially produce small amounts of radiation, which are transmitted to surfaces, such as tissue, bone and joints. While some beams pass through these objects, others are absorbed; this pattern of reflection and absorption produces an image on a special X-ray film.


X-ray machines are designed to permeate the surfaces of lighter objects and materials, such as skin and soft tissues. While beams pass easily through these body parts, they are not absorbed by denser materials, such as bone. The reflection of X-ray beams from dense objects appears as light areas on X-ray films, which identify bone structures and illuminate the skeleton.

This process starts with the generation of electricity, which happens when the machine is turned on. Electrical energy is then carried through a compressed X-ray tube, which transforms energy into multiple X-ray beams. These beams are highly concentrated, and exist in various levels of energy. Beams with low energy are blocked, while high-energy beams pass through dense surfaces to provide technicians with a clear image of the skeleton.