X-rays, or radiographs, are a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. They are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. X-rays are a form of radiant energy that can penetrate the body, allowing radiologists to produce images of your bones or internal organs. They are used most often to detect bone or joint problems or to check the heart and lungs.
What Should I Expect During An X-ray?
Radiography 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, or radiation like light or radio waves, pass through most objects, including the body. Once it is carefully aimed at the part of the body being examined, an x-ray machine produces a small burst of radiation that passes through the body, recording an image digitally. Different parts of the body absorb the x-rays in varying degrees. Dense bone absorbs much of the radiation while soft tissue, such as muscle, fat and organs, allows more of the x-rays to pass through. As a result, bones appear white on the x-ray, soft tissue shows up in shades of gray and air appears black.
Generally, two or three X-rays will be taken depending on the body part that is being viewed. You will be asked to remain as still as possible during the very short exposure time. If necessary, you will be instructed to hold your breath in order to prevent motion from blurring the images. A patient may return to normal activities once his X-rays are complete.