An ion is an atom or group of atoms that has an electric charge. Ions with a positive charge are called cations. Ions with a negative charge are called anions.
Many normal substances exist in the body as ions. Common examples include sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and bicarbonate. These substances are known as electrolytes.
Ions can be created using radiation such as x-rays. Ionizing radiation is often used to diagnose or treat a medical condition.
Bearcroft PWP, Hopper MA. Imaging techniques and fundamental observations for the musculoskeletal system. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2015:chap 45.
Rhee P, Joseph B. Shock, electrolytes, and fluid. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 4.
Venes D, ed. Ion. Taber's Medical Dictionary, 23rd ed., F.A. Davis Company, 2017. Taber's Online. www.tabers.com/tabersonline/view/Tabers-Dictionary/769859/all/ion.
Review Date 9/16/2019
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.