Major Illnesses Diagnosed Through Traditional X-Rays

While newer diagnostic imaging tests such as the MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, and the CAT scan, or computed tomography scan, provide physicians with detailed images of a body part, and are extremely effective in diagnosing major illnesses, the traditional x-ray is also effective in revealing serious illnesses. While x-rays are often performed in hospital radiology departments, they can also be performed in a doctor's office, and even at the patient's bedside in the hospital via a portable x-ray machine. Here are some major illnesses that a traditional x-ray can reveal to your doctor to help them diagnose your condition. 

Pulmonary Fibrosis

A serious lung disease known as pulmonary fibrosis causes fibrosis, or scarring, of your lung tissue. It can be caused by cigarette smoking, genetics, certain chemicals, and respiratory infections. Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, appetite loss, fatigue, and body aches.

If you have pulmonary fibrosis, your x-ray may reveal the presence of shadows, scarring, nodules, and pleural effusions, or fluid in the lungs. People who have pulmonary fibrosis almost always have abnormal chest x-rays, though the cause of this disease is not always uncovered. If the radiologist is unable to determine the cause of your pulmonary fibrosis, they will determine the cause to be idiopathic, which means that the cause of the disease is not known. 


Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can cause severe pain in the affected bone, increased warmth and inflammation over the bone, and redness. It can also cause body-wide symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, and headache.

If you have diabetes, you may be at a greater risk for developing bone infections such as osteomyelitis than someone without diabetes. If you have symptoms of osteomyelitis, your doctor will recommend an x-ray, which may reveal a bone fracture, decreased bone density, or bone necrosis, which refers to the death of your bone tissue.

Osteomyelitis often causes skin lesions over the infected area. However, soft tissue is generally not seen on traditional x-rays. If your doctor needs further clarification, they may order an MRI or CAT scan, which can reveal soft tissue abnormalities. 

To learn more about radiology services as they pertain to pulmonary fibrosis or osteomyelitis, talk to your primary care physician. They will address your concerns regarding your imaging tests and will recommend the test best suited for your particular situation.