Radiography is defined as the sending of moderate levels of X-ray particles through an animal’s body and generating an image that is based on the contrasting strength of the particles passing through. The contrast is created by the differing “densities” of animal tissue. Bones have a higher density, and a chemical composition, that hinders most of the X-rays from passing through. Other, softer tissues, allow for passage of more of the particles.
The digestive system falls into this “soft” category of tissue. Intestinal tissue, for instance, allows much of an X-ray beam to pass through without obstruction. That means it is difficult to achieve a level of contrast without some help.
Barium Blocks X-rays, Improving Contrast
Barium is introduced into the animal’s system, as a way to improve contrast and make diagnosis easier and more reliable. To the right is an image produced using barium radiography of a pet cat, “Gizmo.” The largest light-colored shape is Gizmo’s stomach.