X-ray artifacts

Dr Ian Bickle and Dr Aditya Shetty et al.

Artifacts can present in a variety of ways including abnormal shadow noted on a radiograph or degraded image quality and have been produced by artificial means from hardware failure, operator error and software (post-processing) artifacts. 

There are common and distinct artifacts for film, computed and digital radiography

  • improper handling of the films
  • errors while processing the films
  • patient movement while taking the shot
  • motion artifact
    • due patient movement resulting in a distorted image
  • image compositing (or twin/double exposure)
    • superimposition of two structures from different locations due to double exposure of same film/plate
  • grid cut-off
  • radio-opaque objects on or external to the patient (e.g. necklaces, piercing, buttons, hair, pony tail)
  • finger marks
    • improper handling with hands
  • clear film
    • malfunction of the machine or placing the film in fixer before developer solution
  • static electricity
    • black “lightning” marks resulting from films forcibly unwrapped or excessive flexing of the film
  • crescent-shaped black lines
    • due to fingernail pressure on the film
  • crescent-shaped white lines
    • due to cracked intensifying screen
  • black film
    • complete exposure to light.
  • clear spots
    • air bubbles sticking to film during processing
    • fixer splashed on film prior to developing
    • dirt on the intensifying screen
  • detector image lag or ghosting
    • latent image from previous exposure present on current exposure
  • incorrect detector orientation i.e. upside-down cassette
    • spoke like radio-opaque lines (case 6)
  • backscatter
    • increased radiation exposure required for portable DR examinations
  • stitching artifacts
    • occur when two separate DR or CR images are merged into a single image (see case 3)
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Article information

rID: 27307
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • X-ray artefacts

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: static electricity artefact
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    Case 2: double exposure
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    Case 3: stitching artifact
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    Case 4
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    Case 5: pony tail
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    Case 6: upside down cassette artefact
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    Case 7: grid artefact
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