An X-ray is an imaging procedure that uses low doses of radiation to help diagnose disease or injury. Doctors use X-rays more than any other form of imaging. Using X-rays we can create a still, two-dimensional image of bones, lungs and other organs, air inside the body, and metal objects. X-rays are useful in diagnosing conditions such as fractured bones, arthritis, pneumonia, bowel obstruction, and in locating foreign objects in the body.

To create an image we direct X-rays — invisible beams of energy that pass through the body — at the part of the body to be examined. The X-rays are transmitted to a "detector", creating an image of the inside of the body part being examined. Bones contain calcium, a mineral that absorbs X-rays, so these show up as white on the image.

How do I prepare for the test?

No special preparation is needed for an X-ray. You may be asked to change into a gown when you arrive at the X-ray site.

What will happen during the test?

Depending on the part of the body to be examined we will ask you to lie on or stand near the X-ray table in a specific position. We will cover other parts of your body with a lead apron to protect it from unnecessary exposure to radiation. We may ask you to be very still during the several seconds during which we make the image, and we may take more than one image of the part of the body being evaluated.

Are there any risks?

You will be exposed to minimal doses of diagnostic radiation.

After the test

A radiologist will analyze the X-ray images and will share the results with the doctor who requested the exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you.