X-Ray

What are X-rays?

X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film or digital media. Standard X-rays are performed for many reasons, including diagnosing tumors or bone injuries.

X-rays are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays pass through body structures onto specially-treated plates (similar to camera film) or digital media and a "negative" type picture is made (the more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film).

X-ray technology is used in other types of diagnostic procedures, such as arteriograms, computed tomography (CT) scans, and fluoroscopy.

Radiation during pregnancy rarely leads to birth defects. Always tell your radiologist or doctor if you suspect you may be pregnant.

Before the procedure

  • The doctor will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
  • Generally, no prior preparation, such as fasting or sedation, is required.
  • Notify the radiologic technologist if you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant.
  • Dress in clothes that permit access to the area to be tested or that are easily removed.
  • Notify the radiologic technologist if you have any body piercing on your chest.
  • Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific preparation.

During the procedure

The X-ray may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices.

Generally, the X-ray follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the procedure.
  2. You will be given a gown to wear.
  3. The particular view that the doctor orders will determine how you are positioned for the X-ray, such as lying, sitting, or standing. You will be positioned carefully so that the desired view of the chest is obtained. The doctor will also specify the number of films to be made.
  4. For a standing or sitting film, you will stand or sit in front of the X-ray plate. You will be asked to roll your shoulders forward, take in a deep breath, and hold it until the X-ray exposure is made. For patients who are unable to hold their breath, the radiologic technologist will take the picture at the appropriate time by watching the breathing pattern.
  5. It will be important for you to remain still during the exposure, as any movement will blur the film.
  6. For a side-angle view of the chest, you will be asked to turn to your side and raise your arms above your head. You will be instructed to take in a deep breath and hold it as the X-ray exposure is made.
  7. The radiologic technologist will step behind a protective window while the images are being made.

While the X-ray procedure itself causes no pain, the manipulation of the body part being examined may cause some discomfort or pain, particularly in the case of a recent injury or invasive procedure, such as surgery. The radiologic technologist will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.

After the procedure

Generally, there is no special type of care after a chest X-ray. However, your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

 

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