X-rays of the head (skull bones) – what shows?


Radiography of the skull – a method of instrumental diagnostics, which allows to estimate the condition of the bones of the skull. It is not the most informative method, but it is indispensable in those cases when the time for examination is small, but more accurate methods are not available. With the help of x-rays to make an accurate diagnosis, to determine the therapeutic tactics, to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment process, when symptoms of brain damage.

The method

X-rays of the head based on the ability of tissues to absorb x-rays. The x-ray tube sends a beam of x-rays on the light-sensitive element, in this case – film. Some of them free to reach the film, and some is absorbed by the internal structures. The denser the tissue, the less rays it flows. For example, bone is a very dense fabric, almost impenetrable to x-rays. Cavity containing air, are not an obstacle.

X-ray allows visualization of three groups of bones of the skull vault, base, and facial skeleton. All the bones of the skull are joined together using seams – fixed teeth. The only exception is the lower jaw – it is joined by means of joints. Doing a few shots in different projections, we can consider the shape of the bones to assess their integrity.

Skull x-ray to diagnose congenital malformations, changes in the Turkish saddle – an increase, degradation, decrease of bone density. They all arise when elevated pressure in the corresponding zone. Most often it is benign and malignant pituitary tumors.

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Also x-rays of the head show signs of severe intracranial hypertension – fingerlike depressions on the inner lamina of the bones, resulting from elevated pressure in the brain. Defects inside bones is talking about migrated osteomyelitis. Calcification inside the skull indicate chronic subduralna hemorrhage, lesion of toxoplasmosis, cysticercosis. A head x-ray diagnose meningiomas or oligodendrogliomas of the brain, which often obyzvestvleniya. The calcified pineal body in norm is located on the median line and is well visualized on radiographs of the skull. It is a shift towards talking about the tumor process in the brain on the side opposite to the offset. In addition, skull x-ray shows bone changes in metabolic diseases such as Paget’s disease.

Indications for research

Given the diagnostic capabilities of the method, an indication for radiography is suspected of one of these diseases:

  • open and closed traumatic brain injury;

  • a tumor of the pituitary gland;
  • congenital malformations;
  • pathology of ENT-organs, particularly of the sinuses.

If setting the preliminary diagnosis is difficult, an x-ray of the skull shows in such situations:

  • headaches resistant character;
  • dizziness;
  • disturbances of consciousness;
  • symptoms of hormonal imbalance.

These symptoms indicate possible disease of the brain and require a detailed examination of the patient.

The technique of the procedure

Special preparation is not needed. The patient explain the procedure and warn about multiple shots.

Also the patient is asked to remove all metal jewelry in the area of the head and neck – they have a high ability to reflect x-rays and can obscure important parts of the radiographs.

Depending on the condition of the patient, he is seated in a chair or laid on the x-ray table. To ensure a reliable immobilization, the patient’s head fixed by the bands, sandbags, strips of synthetic materials.

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To get the maximum amount of useful information images in such projections:

  • right side;
  • left side;
  • front-rear;
  • rear-front;
  • axial.

Before the patient leaves the office, the images shown and their quality is assessed.

Describing the result of x-ray, the doctor evaluates the shape and size of the skull, thickness, and integrity of bones, condition of seams. Also look paranasal sinuses. We study the features of vascular pattern.

Depending on the indications, the doctor may prescribe x-rays not of the head, and sighting study an area of interest – the lower jaw, nose, orbits, Sella, zygomatic bones, mastoid, temporal-mandibular joint.

Features of the procedure in children

Indications for radiography of the skull in a child – the same as in adults. The most common of them are injuries, including generic. However, the study resorted to only in extreme cases when it is impossible to find a replacement, and the expected benefit clearly prevails over the probable side effects. This is because all the organs and tissues of children are actively growing, including brain cells. The more active the growth, the more cells exposed to the negative effects of x rays.

Before taking pictures the child wear protective equipment – lead aprons, collar.

To minimize movement of the baby securely. What to do in the office allowed to be native. If the child is small or is very restless, give him a sedative.

Security studies

Not so long ago doctors actively used the term «maximum permissible dose». He determined the maximum radiation dose for patients of different categories. To date, a head x-ray is prescribed only when indicated. Therefore, it will be held as many times as needed for diagnosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment. On average, one x-ray of skull the patient receives 4% of the normal annual exposure from natural sources. Gets about the same man who within the hour stays in the sun.

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In many patients, multiple x-ray examination causes fear and doubt. In part, they are justified – frequent irradiation actively growing cells increases the probability of mutations and development of malignancies. However, the trials are even small children and pregnant women when at stake is the life of the patient, the doctor uses all necessary methods of diagnostics and treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask the specialist questions. Jointly after discussing the pros and cons, you can come to a solution that is optimal.