If your doctor has ordered an x-ray, you may be unsure what to expect from the experience. There’s nothing to worry about – an x-ray is generally a quick and painless test that is used to produce images of the inside of your body. Your doctor will be able to examine what’s going on inside your body without making an incision. This can help them diagnose, monitor, and treat many different medical conditions.
X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate and pass through the human body. X-rays are absorbed differently depending on the density of the materials they pass through. Dense materials like bone or metal will show up white on x-rays, while air in your lungs would show up black. Materials like fat and muscle often appear as shades of grey.
Preparing for Your X-Ray
There are different types of x-rays for different purposes. Here at The Center, x-rays are primarily used to examine an area where you are experiencing pain or discomfort, monitor the progression of a diagnosed disease (such as osteoporosis), or check the progress of how a prescribed treatment is working. X-rays are commonly used to look for conditions such as bone fractures, infections, arthritis, or osteoporosis.
In most cases, there’s not much you need to do to prepare for your imaging exam. You may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing without any zippers, snaps, or metal grommets. It’s a good idea to leave jewelry or other metal objects at home, as you will likely be asked to remove them.
During Your X-Ray
Once you have arrived and checked in, one of our radiology assistants will escort you to an x-ray room. You may be asked to change into a gown or pair of exam shorts depending on what part of your body is being imaged. When you are ready, your x-ray technologist will help you position your body to take clear and specific images. They may ask you to sit, lie, or stand in several different positions to acquire the necessary images. You shouldn’t feel anything during an x-ray, though some of the positions may be a little uncomfortable after holding them for a duration of time. Your technologist will make sure you are as comfortable as possible, and move through the process as quickly as possible.
Your x-ray tech may use pillows or sandbags to help you hold positions easier. In some cases, such as spine x-rays or x-rays prior to a hip replacement, your x-ray technologist may have you stand in front of our specialized plate designed for long length images. It is important to stay as still as you can during the x-ray process to prevent blurry images. The procedure will be complete when your x-ray technologist is satisfied with the images gathered.
After Your X-Ray
When your x-ray is complete, you may generally return to your normal activities, depending on your condition and the reason for your x-ray. X-rays are saved digitally on computers, and your x-ray technologist will send all images to your doctor. Your doctor will review your x-rays and recommend treatment based on your results.