What is X-ray?
Medical x-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation used to generate images of tissue and structures inside the body. Medical x-rays use ionizing radiations which is a form of radiation that has enough energy to potentially cause damage to DNA. This means there is a very small risk of developing cancer later in life, however, that depends on radiation dose, patient’s age, patient’s sex, and body region. The FDA believes that the benefit of a clinically appropriate X-ray imaging exam far outweighs the risks, but efforts should always be made to minimize unnecessary exposure to ionizing radiation.
Why would I get an X-ray?
X-rays are used to examine an area of the body that is experiencing pain or discomfort, and it is necessary for the doctor to determine the appropriate diagnoses. X-ray is also used to monitor the progression of a disease or check how well a treatment is working. Conditions that may call for an x-ray include bone cancer, breast tumors, enlarged heart, blocked blood vessels, conditions affecting your lungs, digestive problems, fractures, infections, osteoporosis, and arthritis.
Who cannot get an X-ray?
The level of radiation exposure is safe for most adults, but not for developing babies. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or believe you could be pregnant. They may suggest a different imaging method such as MRI.
How to prepare for an X-ray?
X-rays are standard procedure, and in most cases, it will not be necessary to do anything to prepare. It is best to wear loose, comfortable clothing that is easy to move around in, and you might be asked to wear a gown. The radiologist will tell you how to position your body—lie, site, or stand—in several positions during the exam. It is important to remain still while the images are taken. You may also be asked to remove any jewelry or other metallic items from your body. Always tell doctors about metal implants as these can block the x-rays from passing through your body. Some x-rays require a “contrast dye” that will help improve the image quality. The dye can be ingested or injected. If you are receiving x-ray on the gastrointestinal system, you may be asked to fast prior to the exam.