What’s the Difference in an X-Ray and an Ultrasound?

Sep 01, 2023
What’s the Difference in an X-Ray and an Ultrasound?
While X-rays and ultrasounds are both commonly used imaging tests, they’re not at all the same. We review the differences between the two and what they’re used for here.

Radiology is a branch of medicine that helps health care providers to properly diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. Two of the most common radiology services used are X-rays and ultrasounds. Both X-rays and ultrasounds make it possible for your provider to see inside your body without making a single incision. 

At Prairie Garden Medical in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, led by Joel S. Tupper, MD, and Daniel Jones, MD, we offer both of these imaging technologies in our office for your convenience. In this blog, we explore more about X-rays and ultrasounds and the differences between them.

Explaining X-rays

X-rays have been around for over 100 years and have been used to save countless lives. They use safe amounts of radiation in order to create pictures of the structures inside your body such as your bones and soft tissues. Typically X-rays are used to detect broken bones, but they can also be used to examine areas where you’re experiencing pain, monitor the status of an existing disease, or check the progress of a treatment plan. 

Explaining ultrasounds

Ultrasounds — also referred to as sonograms — use high-frequency sound waves to create pictures or videos of your soft tissues such as organs and blood vessels. While many people associate ultrasounds with pregnancy, they can be used for much more than that. 

Ultrasounds can examine things such as your abdomen, pelvis, thyroid, and kidneys to name a few. In addition, ultrasounds are helpful tools for guiding procedures like joint replacements or biopsies.

How do these radiology tools differ?

One of the main differences between X-rays and ultrasounds is what they each use to produce images of your internal structures. While X-rays use small pulses of radiation, ultrasounds use sound waves. 

Another major difference between the two is the images they produce. X-rays provide clear pictures of your bones because your bones absorb the radiation well and then appear white on the black background of the images. However, ultrasounds are more suited for capturing images of your soft tissues because the sound waves tend to bounce off denser objects like your organs. 

Because of this, X-rays are typically utilized for diagnosing and treating broken bones or other similar injuries while ultrasounds can help pinpoint infections, illnesses, or blockages.

Next steps

No matter what kind of radiology procedure you need, Prairie Garden Medical is ready to provide those imaging tests for you here on-site at our office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

If you need an appointment for an imaging test, don’t hesitate to contact us to get one scheduled. You can do this by giving us a call at 405-835-2699 or by using our online booking tool today.