An X-ray is a picture of the body made with a high-energy form of light. To make the pictures, a technologist places you on a special table. The X-ray device shines a beam of X-rays through the part of the body to be examined. The images of the body part are captured electronically. The pictures are then sent to a computer, where a radiologist reads them. The high-energy “light” used to make a medical X-ray is a form of radiation. Any risk from routine diagnostic X-rays is usually very low, even for infants and pregnant women.
Most X-ray studies need little or no preparation. It would be a good idea, however, to remove any jewelry, metallic cosmetics or metallic body piercings that might be in the area of the examination beforehand. X-ray studies of the kidneys, stomach, small bowel and colon may also have special preparations that need to be done a day or two before the exam. If you are having one of these or other specialized exams, you will receive any necessary instructions when you schedule your study. If you are having a study which involves the injection of X-ray contrast such as an arthrogram, myelogram, hysterosalpingogram, venogram or kidney study, there may be also be additional instructions when you schedule your exam.
After you check in to the imaging department or center, you will be taken to a waiting room. If there are any last-minute preparations, you will receive instructions there. You will likely be asked to remove items of jewelry such as watches, rings, necklaces, piercings and any other metallic material which might be in the way of the area to be examined. You may be asked to wear an examination gown for some studies. The technologist can answer specific questions at the time of your exam about anything that is difficult to remove or any medical device or implant. You will be placed in a private exam room, where a technologist will position you for the X-ray pictures, either on a table or in front of a wall detector. Each image taken may be in a different position. If there are any special instructions after your exam, a radiologist, nurse or technologist will inform you about them before you leave the facility.