Why are contrast agents used in radiography?

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A major improvement to the diagnostic accuracy of radiography has been the addition of contrast agents, which can be administered in a vein or instilled in a duct or hollow organ, such as barium sulfate in the alimentary tract.

A contrast medium contains relatively dense material of a high atomic number that absorbs more of the x-rays than the surrounding tissues, hence making the stomach, colon, or vessel appear white on the x-ray film. One can then look for structural changes such as polyps, stones, or ulcerations.

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