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The term DR will be used to describe digital imaging in which the image receptor does not use a digital plate that is used in a special cassette. Systems using digital plates in special cassettes is known as CR or Computed Radiography.


There are two different technologies that are considered to be DR: CCD based (“CCD DR”) and Flat Panel based (Panel DR). In both of these systems, the x-ray exposure is made directly to the image receptor and it is not necessary for the technologists to handle an imaging plate or cassette.


CCD based DR systems utilize a scintillator (intensifying screen), CCD chip and an optical system to capture the image and convert it to a digital image. The details of this conversion process are beyond the scope of this discussion.


Flat Panel based DR systems convert the x-ray photons to an electrical charge. This electrical charge is than converted to a digital signal and processed by a computer. Flat panel detectors that are Amorphous Silicone based utilize the indirect process in which x-ray photons are first converted to light signals and the light signals are converted to a digital signal. Amorphous Selenium systems convert the x-ray photons directly to an electrical charge which is then converted to a digital signal. The details of this conversion process are beyond the scope of this discussion.



The following information relates to both types of DR technology in general.

Once an exposure is made, the digital signal is converted to a digital image in a format known as DICOM (the standard established for medical imaging). This digital image is simply a computer file made up of data in a binary code (0’s and 1’s). Once the digital image (computer file) is created it can be displayed on a computer monitor, stored on devices capable of recording large computer files, copied to a CD, and transmitted to another location via the internet.


DR imaging offer many advantages when compared to conventional analog film-screen radiography. They may also offer advantages when compared to cassette based digital systems. These benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Utilize Existing Equipment: Most of the time your existing equipment that produces the x-ray radiation can be used as part of a computer based imaging system. However it should be noted that CCD DR systems do not work well with some x-ray generating equipment.
  • Image Quality: Computer based imaging can result in images with high resolution and can provide excellent image quality.
  • Post Processing: A digital imaging system has the ability to manipulate the image once displayed. Contrast and density of images can be adjusted; the physician can zoom in on or magnify images. Many other image manipulation tools are available.
  • Improved Efficiency: Once an x-ray is taken, images are generally converted to a digital image in 4 to 10 seconds. Since a computer is used for routing, storage, retrieval, and viewing of images, there is a much more efficient workflow that can result in considerable savings.


Before deciding on which type or model of digital x-ray system to purchase, you should discuss your options with a qualified x-ray dealer that offers a full range of digital systems. There are many advantages and disadvantages of various types of digital x-ray technology with respect to each other.



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