What Are X-Rays?

While it is not an uncommon occurrence, many people don’t know much about this type of procedure.
Below are a few things to know about X-rays, including what they are needed for, how they work and how to prepare for one.

X-rays are a painless, non-invasive procedure that can detect the following

  1. Broken bones / Fractures
  2. Tumors
  3. Dental decay
  4. Foreign bodies within the body

Other conditions that can be observed by X-rays also include:

  • Bone cancer
  • Breast tumors
  • Enlarged heart
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Lung conditions
  • Digestive system problems
  • Infections
  • Arthritis
What Are X-Rays

How do they work?

X-rays are easily able to detect dense material such as a tumor, bone or metal fragment. An X-ray moves effortlessly through air and soft tissue in the body, but is stopped any time it approaches a mass.

The bigger the mass, the more rays are absorbed. Because of this, it is easy to differentiate a tumor from a bone due to the amount of X-ray absorbed.

A trained physician, known as a radiologist, will study the X-ray and inform the provider of the results.

How to prepare for an x-ray

A normal X-ray (known as a fixed plate X-ray) requires no special preparation.

Although, it is smart to wear loose, comfortable clothing that you can move around in easily. (Some providers will ask you to change into a hospital gown for the X-ray.)

Will I have to wait for results?

Typically, your results will be available the same day as the procedure. However, sometimes results can take a few days. Once your provider has reviewed your results, additional testing may be ordered depending on the results.



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What Are X-Rays

X-Ray Side Effects

Because X-rays use minor amounts of radiation in order to create the images of your body, it is essential that you tell your provider if you are pregnant.

The radiation level is so small that it is considered to be safe for adults; however, babies should not receive an x-ray because of this exposure.

  1. Hives
  2. Itching
  3. Nausea
  4. Light headedness
  5. A metallic taste in the mouth
  6. In very rare cases, the dye can cause anaphylactic shock, a drop in blood pressure or cardiac arrest.

Are x-rays uncomfortable?

During the x-ray procedure, you will be asked to hold your body in certain positions while the images are being taken.

If you are suffering from a painful condition, like a broken bone, it is possible you could experience slight discomfort during the exam.

Because of this, your provider may recommend you take pain medication beforehand. Some people may experience side effects when asked to ingest the contrast dye.

What will happen after getting my x-ray?

Once your provider has collected the x-ray images, you should be able to change back into your normal clothing. Depending on the situation, your provider will likely encourage you to go about your routine daily activities.

If you are physically unable, he or she may recommend you rest while you await your results.