What it’s like to get an X-ray, and how to prepare

An X-ray can be the first line of defense for a health care provider to show what’s happening inside your body, and it’s often ordered before doctors can determine that other imaging is needed, such as an MRI scan or CT scan.

What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is an image of the inside of your body that can show bones, organs, foreign objects or even pockets of air or fluid. An X-ray can be performed on any part of the body, from your head to your toes.

When are X-rays most often used?

Typically, X-rays are used to look at anything within the bone structure. While X-rays can often be used to look at organs such as the lungs, this imaging is most often used when we need to see bone more closely. It shows us where you might have arthritis or a fracture from a current or previous injury.

Is there radiation from X-ray imaging?

There is radiation involved in X-ray tests. These are very low doses of radiation. Both the health care provider ordering the X-rays and the radiologist are qualified medical professionals who would have weighed the benefits and risks of having an X-ray exam performed.

How long does an X-ray take?

The X-ray imaging itself takes less than a second. From coming into the X-ray exam room and changing positions to get the right image to getting the final images, you might be in the room an average of five minutes.


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