X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. An x-ray is a picture that results from a small dose of radiation passing through the body and striking a film/plate on the other side. This picture allows your doctor to examine your bones or organs. The test is safe, quick and painless. The type of exam you have will depend upon the area to be imaged and the reason your doctor requested one.
Wake Forest Baptist uses state-of-the-art equipment for x-ray exams. The images generated provide important information to assist your physician in diagnosing your medical condition and/or planning your course of treatment.
Common Uses of X-ray
X-rays can be performed on many parts of the body, including the head, chest, abdomen, pelvis, vital organs, joints and bones of the upper and lower extremities. They are useful in detecting problems with the skeletal system, as well as some disease processes of the soft tissue.
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.
All of our equipment is maintained by highly trained service engineers and meets or exceeds the operating specifications set forth by the manufacturers and the federal government.
If you are pregnant or think you might be, please tell the staff before the test. As with other medical procedures, x-ray exams are safe when used with care. Radiologists and technologists have been trained to use the minimum amount of radiation necessary to obtain the needed results. The amount of radiation used in most examinations is very small and the benefits greatly outweigh the risk of harm.
How to Prepare for an X-ray
Wear comfortable clothing, preferably clothes with no zipper or buttons, such as a sweat suit. You will also need to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, and anything else with metal, especially if it's near the area being x-rayed. Gowns are available if needed.
For certain types of procedures, it is important for you to bring a list of your current medications with you, so we will know what you may have taken prior to your exam.
For most X-ray exams there are no restrictions on what you may eat or drink. For the exceptions, instructions will be given at the time your appointment is scheduled.
All x-ray exams are read by the Wake Forest Baptist radiologists trained in x-ray imaging and dedicated to your specific body part scanned. They will read your exam within 24 hours, and the results will be sent to the doctor that ordered your exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you and what they mean in relation to your health.
Experienced radiologists and technologists dedicated to imaging pediatric patients utilize state of the art equipment and pediatric specific protocols.