What is an X-ray?
An X-ray is a quick and painless imaging test that’s been used for decades. It can help your doctor view the inside of your body without creating any incision. This can help them diagnose, monitor, and treat many medical conditions.It is the most common imaging test.
Different types of X-rays are used for various purposes. For example, your doctor may order a mammogram to examine your breasts. Or they may order an X-ray with a barium enema to view your gastrointestinal tract.(1)
There are some risks associated with getting an X-ray. But for most people, the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Take help of your doctor to learn more about what is appropriate for you.
Why is an X-ray performed?
Your doctor may order an X-ray to:
- examine an area where you’re experiencing pain or discomfort
- monitor the development of a diagnosed disease, such as osteoporosis
- check how well a recommended treatment is working
Conditions that may call for an X-ray include:
- bone cancer
- breast tumors
- enlarged heart
- obstructed blood vessels
- conditions affecting your lungs
- digestive issues
- tooth decay
- needing to recover swallowed items
How should you prepare for an X-ray?
X-rays are standard procedures. In most cases, you won’t need to follow special steps to prepare for them. Depending on the area that your doctor and radiologist are examining, you may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing that you can easily move around in. They may ask you to change your cloth and wear a hospital gown for the test. They may also ask you to remove any jewelery or other metallic items from your body before your X-ray is performed.
Always tell your doctor or radiologist if you have metal implants from previous surgeries. These implants can stop X-rays from passing through your body and making a clear image.
In some cases, you may require to take a contrast material or “contrast dye” before your X-ray. This is a substance that will help provide the clear images. It may contain iodine or barium compounds. Depending on the reason for the X-ray test, the contrast dye may be given in different ways, including:
- though a liquid that you swallow
- through an injection into your body
- given to you in the form enema before your test
If you’re having an X-ray to examine your gastrointestinal tract, your doctor may ask you to fast for a certain amount of time beforehand. You will require to avoid eating anything during your fast. You may also need to avoid or restrict drinking certain liquids. In few cases, they may also ask you to take medications to clear out your bowels.
How is the procedure performed?
An X-ray technologist or radiologist can perform an X-ray in radiology department in a hospital,in a dentist’s office, or a clinic that specializes in diagnostic procedures.
Once you’re totally prepared, your X-ray technician or radiologist will tell you how to position your body to make clear pictures. They may ask you to lie, sit, or stand in various positions during the test. They may take images while you stand in front of a specialized plate that contains X-ray film or sensors. In some cases, they may also ask you to lie or sit on a specialized plate and move a big camera attached to a steel arm over your body to take X-ray images.
It’s necessary to stay still while the pictures are being taken. This will allow the clearest pictures possible.
The test is ended as soon as your radiologist is satisfied with the images collected.
What are the potential side effects of an X-Ray?
X-rays use small amounts of radiation to take images of your body. The level of radiation exposure is regarded as safe for most adults, but not for a growing baby. If you’re pregnant or believe you could be pregnant, tell your doctor before you have an X-ray. They may recommend a different imaging method, such as an MRI.
If you’re having an X-ray done to help diagnose or control a painful condition, such as a fractured bone, you may feel pain or discomfort during the test. You will need to hold your body in certain positions while the pictures are being taken. This may lead to pain or discomfort. Your doctor may suggest taking pain medicine in advance.
If you swallow a contrast material before your X-ray, it may lead to side effects. These include:
- a metallic taste in your mouth
In very few cases, the dye can lead to a severe reaction, such as anaphylactic shock, lowered blood pressure, or cardiac arrest. If you doubt you’re having a severe reaction, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
What happens after an X-ray?
After your X-ray images have been gathered, you can change back into your normal clothes. Depending on your condition, your doctor may suggest you to go about your normal works or rest while you are waiting for your results. Your results may be available on the same day as your procedure, or later.
Your doctor will review your X-rays and the report from the radiologist to determine how to start for treatment. Depending on your results, they may order additional tests to make an correct diagnosis. For example, they may order additional imaging scans, blood tests, or other diagnostic procedures. They may also recommend a course of treatment.
Talk to your doctor about more information about your particular condition, diagnosis, and treatment options.