What is an X Ray?

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An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays 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 are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.



An x-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation that can be used to take an image of the internal structures of the body. An x-ray machine sends out tiny particles, which pass through all but the most solid of objects such as bones and metal. This results in a picture that shows the skeletal aspects of the body. Muscle, fluid and fat usually show up as a gray area on the image, while air is black. There are many ways doctors can use x-rays for diagnosis.

Having an x-ray is generally not painful, but if performed very frequently, can carry a risk of developing cancer later on in life. This risk is very low and must be weighed against the benefit of having the images. It is especially important that you notify the x-ray technician if you are pregnant.

You may be asked to wear a hospital gown and to take off any jewelry you're wearing because it will show up on the x-ray. Depending on the area you are having imaged you may be asked to pose in different positions, some of which may be slightly awkward. However, it only takes a second to take the x-ray, so this is very temporary. Also, depending on the area you are having imaged, the technician may take several shots from different angles. The images are usually interpreted by a doctor called a radiologist, who specializes in analyzing these tests. The results are then sent to your physician.