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Definition | Reasons for Test | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor

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
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

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

X-rays can also be used to:

  • Find an infection
  • Locate tumors
  • Look for fluid in the lungs
  • Look for problems in the abdomen
  • Diagnose heart and large blood vessel problems

Possible Complications

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

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.

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.

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

A few minutes

No

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

Call Your Doctor

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.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_xray&bhcp=1. Accessed. Updated April 25, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.

Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.