X-ray procedures

An x-ray is performed on a patient that is looking to find more information about a diagnosis or bone injury. By using invisible energy beams that are electromagnetic, an x-ray technician can get a better look at images of organs, bones and tissues. Once an x-ray is taken, the picture is then revealed on digital media or film.

An x-ray is made in order to produce images of any body part, organ or internal structure that needs diagnostic care. X-rays are created by the use of external radiation, which passes through the body and onto plates or digital media. Once the x-ray is completed, the image will have the same appearance of a ‘negative’ image on a roll of film. With x-rays, the whitest parts are pictures of the most solid structures in the body.

X-rays can turn out so successful because the body allows for beams to pass through easily. The soft tissue areas of the body, including the skin, fat, muscles and blood, allow most of the beams to pass through the body. The soft tissue areas of the body will appear as a dark gray color on the image instead of white like bones will. The differences in the two colors make diagnostic care much easier.

A lot of patients get an x-ray when they are looking for a tumor or certain bone injury. In this case, a tumor will appear whiter in color because it is denser than the softer tissues that are surrounding the area. On the other hand, a break in a bone will have a dark line that goes right through the bone. A line or several lines through a bone is a strong indicator that the patient has a bone injury, such as a break or fracture.

X-rays are known to be very safe, but aren’t recommended in frequent amounts or by use of pregnant women. Pregnant women should always consult with their physician by telling him or her they are pregnant. Since an x-ray can increase the likelihood of birth defects, the patient should tell the health care provider no matter which stage they are at during their pregnancy.

X-ray technology is becoming more and more advanced and is used for all sorts of health concerns. X-rays can be taken for further diagnosing patients that need a computed tomography (CT) scan, a fluoroscopy, or an arteriogram.

How Is an X-ray Performed?

An x-ray can be taken as part of inpatient care or outpatient care. Depending on the circumstances, patients have the option for either.

Though a patient can get an x-ray taken at several different places, each facility generally has the same procedure process:

  • A patient will need to remove any jewelry or clothing that may interfere with the examined body part.
  • If the patient must remove their clothing, they will be given a gown to wear.
  • The patient will be positioned for the x-ray by either lying down or standing up. This position will be between the cassette that contains the film for the x-ray and the x-ray machine.
  • To avoid the exposure of radiation, body parts that aren’t being imaged will be covered up and shielded with a lead apron.
  • The patient must stay as still as possible to avoid any blurred images and to get the best reading possible.
  • The technologist that is taking the image will place the x-ray beam on the focused area to be photographed and will then stand behind a window for protection.
  • To get the best images possible, a patient may need to get many different angles. Some images may be taken from a side view or even a frontal view.