What is Radiographic Anatomy?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Radiographic anatomy is the study of anatomy through the use of X-rays.
Radiographic anatomy is the study of anatomy through the use of X-rays.

Radiographic anatomy is a branch within the discipline of anatomy which involves the study of anatomy through the use of radiographic films, also known as x-rays. Medical students typically spend some time studying radiographic anatomy during their general educations, and certain medical specialists may go on to study it extensively, such as radiographers, orthopedic surgeons, and dentists. Numerous textbooks of radiographic anatomy are available for people to utilize to further their knowledge of this particular field of study.

Some areas, such as below the gum line, cannot be studied without radiographic anatomy.
Some areas, such as below the gum line, cannot be studied without radiographic anatomy.

As with anatomy in general, one of the major goals of radiographic anatomy is to accurately identify and describe physical structures in the body. For example, the radiographic anatomy of the hand involves the identification of numerous small bones in the hand, their function, and their proper location in healthy individuals.

People who are interested in studying the development of bone also find radiographic anatomy highly useful. As people age, their bones do as well, and numerous developmental changes which occur in the bone over time can be documented with radiographic anatomy. For example, radiographs of certain bones at different ages can reveal the progressive conversion of cartilage into bone. This information can be used to determine someone's age, and to detect signs that someone's bones are not developing normally.

Radiographic anatomy includes the right way to position patients while taking an X-ray.
Radiographic anatomy includes the right way to position patients while taking an X-ray.

Radiographic anatomy can also cover the study of abnormalities, ranging from deformities to broken bones. A skilled radiographer can pick up a great deal of information from a radiographic film, relying on years of perusal of both normal and abnormal films. In addition to being used to view bone, radiographic anatomy can also involve the study of other structures and pathologies which may be visible on an x-ray, such as intestinal blockages or fluid in the lungs.

Radiographic anatomy may cover the study of broken bones.
Radiographic anatomy may cover the study of broken bones.

Studying films also allows people who operate x-ray machines to see how they need to position patients to get clear images. Positioning is critical, as if a patient is not positioned correctly, other anatomical structures may obscure the area of interest, or the entire area of interest may not be visible on the film. Since medical professionals want to avoid exposing people to radiation unnecessarily, they try to get films right the first time for patient safety.

A dentist may need to be familiar with radiographic anatomy.
A dentist may need to be familiar with radiographic anatomy.

Several radiographic anatomy departments at universities have put their collections of films online, as a resource for members of the public and for students. These collections often include a number of reference samples, such as radiographic films demonstrating bone development, along with specific case studies which may be of interest.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon185076

I want to know the radiographic anatomy of various systems in birds as soon as possible.

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    • Radiographic anatomy is the study of anatomy through the use of X-rays.
      By: nyul
      Radiographic anatomy is the study of anatomy through the use of X-rays.
    • Some areas, such as below the gum line, cannot be studied without radiographic anatomy.
      By: Robert Kneschke
      Some areas, such as below the gum line, cannot be studied without radiographic anatomy.
    • Radiographic anatomy includes the right way to position patients while taking an X-ray.
      By: jovannig
      Radiographic anatomy includes the right way to position patients while taking an X-ray.
    • Radiographic anatomy may cover the study of broken bones.
      By: stockdevil
      Radiographic anatomy may cover the study of broken bones.
    • A dentist may need to be familiar with radiographic anatomy.
      By: Andrey Armyagov
      A dentist may need to be familiar with radiographic anatomy.
    • Radiographic anatomy can include the study of intestinal blockages.
      By: graphicgeoff
      Radiographic anatomy can include the study of intestinal blockages.
    • X-rays may be used to diagnose fluid in the lungs.
      By: Odua Images
      X-rays may be used to diagnose fluid in the lungs.