In this Section:
What is an X-ray?
An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest form of medical imaging.
Special care is taken during x-ray examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. State-of-the-art x-ray systems have tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant filtration and dose control methods to minimize stray or scatter radiation. This ensures that those parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.
How should I prepare?
X-rays are performed on a walk-in basis, and no appointment is necessary.
You must bring a valid health card and requisition.
An x-ray requires no special preparation.
You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
Women should always inform the x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are avoided during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.
How is the procedure performed?
The technologist, an individual specially trained to perform radiology examinations, will bring the patient into the room, verify the information, obtain a brief history, and perform the examination. The technologist will position the patient, and place the x-ray film holder behind or under the patient in the area being imaged. When necessary, sandbags, pillows or other positioning devices will be used to help you maintain the proper position. A lead apron may be placed over your pelvic area or breasts when feasible to protect from radiation.
You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image. The technologistwill walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the x-ray machine. You may be repositioned for another view and the process is repeated. Two to four images (from different angles) will typically be taken.
An x-ray may also be taken of the unaffected limb, or of a child's growth plate (where new bone is forming), for comparison purposes.
When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the technologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained. Examination times will vary depending on the number of views obtained. For example a chest x-ray will take 5-10 minutes, but a spine series can take 20-30 minutes.
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.