Digital X-Rays or Radiography
Radiography, or an X-ray, as it is most commonly known, is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. Discovered more than a century ago, X-rays can produce diagnostic images of the human body on film or digitally on a computer screen when we use low-dose digital X-rays. X-ray imaging is the fastest, easiest way for a physician to view and assess broken bones, such as skull fractures and spinal injuries. We take at least two images, from different angles, and often three images if the problem is around a joint: knee, elbow or wrist. In addition, X-rays also play a key role in guiding orthopedic surgery and in the treatment of sports-related injuries. X-rays may uncover more advanced forms of cancer in bones, although early screening for cancer findings requires other methods.
How Should You Prepare for Your X-Ray Exam?
Most X-rays don’t require any special preparation beforehand. You may be asked to remove clothing and wear a medical gown, and you’ll be asked to remove jewelry, dental appliances, glasses and any metal objects that might interfere with the X-ray images. If you’re a woman who might be pregnant, inform your technologist in advance. If an X-ray is needed, precautions can be taken to limit the amount of radiation exposure to the baby.
What to Expect During an X-Ray
The technologist will position you on the X-ray table and place the film holder or digital recording plate underneath the table in the area of the body that’s being examined. If necessary, pillows or other devices will be used to help you stay in the right position.
A lead apron might be placed over your pelvic area or breasts to protect from radiation.
You’ll be told to hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds to reduce blurring in the image.
The technologist will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the X-ray machine. Images from different angles will generally be taken.
For comparison’s sake, an X-ray may also be taken of the unaffected limb, or of a child’s growth plate where a new bone is being formed.
This procedure is usually complete within 5 to 10 minutes. You may experience small discomfort from cool temperatures in the exam room, and some people find it uncomfortable to hold in a still position and lie on the table.