X-rays have a very high energy level that allows the beam to penetrate the body and create an image or picture.
The image is created due to the X-ray beam being absorbed differently by different structures or parts in the body. A dense structure like bone absorbs a high percentage of the X-ray beam (which appears light grey on the image), whilst low-density structures like soft tissues absorb a small percentage (which appears dark grey on the image). The body has many different structures of varying densities, and this difference creates a picture or image.
A radiologist will interpret the images and provide a report that is sent to your doctor.
For regular X-rays, there are no specific preparation instructions. However, you must bring the X-ray request form or referral letter from your doctor.
Please inform the radiographer who is performing the X-ray if there is any chance you may be pregnant.
As some clothing can make it difficult to see the images clearly, you may be asked to wear a gown. Be prepared to remove certain items like watches, necklaces and certain types of clothing that contain metal objects such as zips, as these items may interfere with the quality of the image.
It usually takes less than 15 minutes for an entire X-ray procedure. In most cases, the area being examined needs to be viewed from different directions to obtain enough information to make the diagnosis. This may require you to move into different positions.
The radiographer will call your name and escort you through to an examination room. They will explain the procedure and prepare you accordingly.
Depending on the part of your body being examined, you may be asked to stand, sit or lie down while the X-ray is taken. It is important that you stay completely still when the radiographer instructs you to, as any movement may create a blurred image.
After the X-rays have been performed, the radiographer will process each X-ray and check the results for quality. This can sometimes take several minutes. Sometimes, additional images will need to be obtained to help the radiologist make a diagnosis. There is no need for concern if this happens as it is quite common.
The benefits of the X-ray procedure is far more important than the small estimated risk. There is little or no evidence of health effects at the radiation dose levels used in diagnostic radiography.
To put this into perspective, a patient would need to have approximately 38 chest X-rays to receive an amount of radiation similar to that of average background radiation that everyone receives for one year from the environment.
Your doctor will receive a written report on your test as soon as practicable.
It is very important that you discuss the results with the doctor who referred you to explain what the results mean for you.
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