What is an X-ray?
X-ray is a common imaging test that has been used for decades. This will help your doctor see inside your body without incisions. It helps them diagnose, monitor, and treat many medical conditions.
Different types of X-rays are used for different purposes. For example, your doctor may order a mammogram to examine your breasts. Or they may order a barium enema X-ray to take a closer look at your GI tract.
There are some downsides to getting an X-ray. But for many, the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Talk to your doctor to learn more about what is right for you.
What are the types of X-rays?
There are many types of X-rays to diagnose conditions and diseases. The following are examples.
- Mammography is a type of x-ray (Radiography) used to diagnose breast cancer.
- Computed tomography (CT) scans combine x-rays with computer processing to combine detailed images (scans) of cross-sections of the body to form a three-dimensional x-ray image.
- Fluoroscopy uses X-rays and a fluorescent screen to study moving or real-time body structures, such as observing the heartbeat. It can also be used in combination with ingested or swallowed contrast agents to view digestive processes or blood flow. Cardiac angioplasty uses fluoroscopy with a contrast agent to guide the internally threaded catheter and help open blocked arteries. Fluoroscopy is also used to precisely place instruments in certain areas of the body, such as epidural injections or joint aspirations.
- X-rays and other uses for other types of radiation Cancer treatment. High-dose radiation in higher doses than those used for x-ray images can help kill cancer cells and tumours by damaging their DNA.
Why are X-rays done?
X-ray technology is used to examine many parts of the body.
Bones and teeth
- Cracks and infections. In most cases, cracks and infections in the bones and teeth are clearly visible on x-rays.
- Arthritis. X-rays of your joints reveal evidence of arthritis. X-rays taken over the years can help your doctor determine if your arthritis is getting worse.
- Dental caries. Dentists use X-rays to look for cavities in your teeth.
- Osteoporosis. Special types of X-ray tests can measure your bone density.
- Bone cancer X-rays reveal bone tumours.
- Ung lung diseases or infections: Evidence of pneumonia, tuberculosis, or lung cancer can be seen on a chest X-ray.
- Breast cancer: Mammography is a specialized x-ray exam used to examine breast tissue.
- Dilated heart: This sign of circulatory failure is clearly visible on x-rays.
- The blood vessels are blocked: Injecting contrast material that contains iodine can help highlight areas of your circulatory system that are visible on x-rays.
- Digestive problems: Barium, a contrast medium distributed in a drink or enema, can help reveal problems in your digestive system.
- Ingested items: If your child swallows something like a key or coin, an X-ray will show the location of the object.
What are the risk factors?
Exposure to radiation
Some people are concerned that X-rays may not be safe because radiation exposure can cause cell mutations that can lead to cancer. The radiation you expose during the x-ray examines all tissue or organs. The sensitivity to radiation depends on your age, children are more sensitive than adults.
However, in general, exposure to X-ray radiation is minimal, and the benefits of these tests outweigh the risks.
However, if you are pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant, tell your doctor before taking an X-ray. Although the risk of most diagnostic x-rays to the fetus is small, your doctor may consider another imaging test, such as an ultrasound.
In some people, the injection of contrast dye can cause side effects such as:
- Feeling hot or flushed
- Metallic taste
- Mild headache
On rare occasions, serious reactions to the contractual environment occur, including:
- Very low blood pressure
- Anaphylactic shock
- Heart attack
How do you prepare for an X-ray?
X-rays are standard procedures. In most cases, you don’t need to take special steps to prepare for them. Depending on the area your doctor and radiologist are examining, you may want to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that turns easily. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown for the test. You may be asked to remove jewellery or other metal objects from your body before taking your X-ray.
Always inform your doctor or radiologist if you have metal implants from previous surgeries. These implants can block the x-rays that pass through your body and create a clearer image.
In some cases, you may need to take contrast material or “contrast matrix” before the X-ray. This is a material that helps improve the quality of images. May contain iodine or barium compounds. Depending on the cause of the X-ray, the contrast can be administered in different ways, including:
- For the liquid that you swallow
- Inserted into your body
- It was given to you as an enema before your exam.
If you have an X-ray to examine your gastrointestinal tract, your doctor may ask you to fast sometime in advance. You should not eat anything during the fast. You should avoid or limit the consumption of certain liquids. In some cases, you may be asked to take medicine to clean your intestines.
How is the X-ray procedure done?
An X-ray technician or radiologist may perform an X-ray in the radiology department of the hospital, the dentist’s office, or the clinic that specializes in diagnostic procedures.
Once you are fully prepared, your X-ray technician or radiologist will tell you how to position your body to create clear images. During the test, you may be asked to lie down, sit, or stand in various positions. They can take pictures when you stand in front of a special plate that contains X-ray film or sensors. In some cases, they may even ask you to lie down or sit on a special plate and move a large camera attached to a steel arm over your body to take X-rays.
It is important to be still when taking pictures. Provide images as clear as possible. The test is completed as soon as you are satisfied with the images collected by your radiologist.
What are the side effects of X-rays?
X-rays use small amounts of radiation to create images of your body. Radiation exposure levels are considered safe for most adults, but not for the developing baby. If you are pregnant or think you are pregnant, tell your doctor before taking an X-ray. They may suggest a different imaging method, such as an MRI.
If you have an X-ray to diagnose or monitor a painful condition, such as a broken bone, you may feel pain or discomfort during the test. You must keep your body in certain positions while taking pictures. It may cause pain or discomfort. Your doctor may recommend taking pain relievers ahead of time.
If you take contrast material before the X-ray, it can cause side effects. In addition to:
- Mild headache
- Metallic taste in your mouth
In very rare cases, the colour can lead to a serious reaction such as anaphylactic shock, very low blood pressure, or cardiac arrest. If you suspect you have a severe reaction, see your doctor immediately.
What happens after the x-ray?
After collecting your X-ray images, you can return to your normal outfit. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend that you rest or resume your normal activities while you wait for the results. Your results may be available the same day or later for your policy.
Your doctor will review your X-rays and the radiologist’s report to determine how to proceed. Depending on your results, they may order additional tests to develop an accurate diagnosis. For example, they may order additional imaging scans, blood tests, or other diagnostic procedures. They can also prescribe a course of treatment.
Ask your doctor for more information about your specific condition, diagnosis, and treatment options.