Health & Wellness Information

X-ray

Definition

X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the inside of the body.

X-ray of Teeth

Jaw x-ray teeth
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Reasons for Test    TOP

X-rays can be taken of any part of the body. They are especially good for looking at teeth and injuries to bones.

X-rays can also be used to:

  • Find an infection, especially pneumonia
  • Look for evidence of arthritis
  • Diagnose heart and large blood vessel problems
  • Look for fluid in the lungs
  • Look for problems in the abdomen

By using oral, rectal, bladder or intravenous contrast materials they can used for other reasons, including:

  • Looking at the stomach and intestines, gall bladder, or liver
  • Small blood vessel disease
  • Urinary tract or reproductive syatem abnormalities
  • Bleeding
  • Locating tumors

Possible Complications    TOP

An x-ray uses radiation to make images. The low levels of radiation from a single x-ray will not affect most people. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant talk to your doctor before the x-ray. Radiation may be harmful to developing babies.

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Test

Before your x-ray is taken, you may be asked to remove jewelry and put on a hospital gown.

Let your doctor know if you are pregnant.

You may be given a type of contrast material.

Description of Test

A lead shield may be placed on parts of your body that are not being x-rayed. This will help reduce your exposure to radiation.

The x-ray device will be placed over the part of your body being studied. You will be asked to remain as still as possible while the images are taken. The x-ray device will send x-rays through your body. The x-rays will be captured on the other side of your body by a computer or on film.

After Test    TOP

You will be able to resume your daily activities after the x-ray is complete.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

A few minutes

Will It Hurt?    TOP

No

Results    TOP

The x-ray will be sent to a radiologist. A report will be sent to you and/or your doctor.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American College of Radiology
http://www.radiologyinfo.org
Radiation-Emitting Products
Food and Drug Administration
http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/default.htm

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Radiologists
http://www.car.ca
Canadian Institute for Health Information
http://www.cihi.ca

References:

Grainger RG, et al. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.
Patient safety: radiation dose. Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.radiolo.... Updated April 25, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 2/27/2014
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