The major disadvantages of conventional radiography include the need for electric power, the superimposition of shadows, and the transportation of radiographic film. Without digital manipulation, conventional radiography produces a single image at a particular exposure setting. The "shades of gray" on the processed radiograph can't be altered as compared to computerized radiographic modalities, in which density and contrast can be manipulated without having to repeat an exposure. Also, magnification and distortion of objects on the developed film preclude direct measurements off the images.
Another major disadvantage of conventional radiography is the misuse of the technology by noncertified radiographers. In the United States, individuals must complete a minimum 24-month program to be eligible for a national certification examination. Even the entry-level radiographer would probably not have sufficient experience to formulate a plan for the establishment of a field radiographic facility. Their education is primarily based on producing acceptable radiographs of living patients with hydrated tissues. However, their knowledge base is sufficient to make adjustments in technical factors such as kVp and mAs. In addition, their ability to position patients can easily translate into manipulating mummified and skeletal remains to achieve the required projections.
Individuals unfamiliar with the application of basic imaging principles, particularly for conventional radiography, will be less successful in producing diagnostic images of mummified and skeletal remains. Tremendous amounts of information will be missed or rendered useless because the images are either under- or overexposed. Even with correct exposure variables, there will be a loss of time and film, decreasing the efficiency of the imaging project. Probably of greater significance, improper application of conventional radiography by untrained individuals can result in catastrophic failure of the x-ray tube due to overheating. A damaged x-ray tube can also leak cooling oil onto specimens, causing irreparable damage. If the x-ray tube fails, particularly in a remote location, the radiographic phase of the study is over.
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