An X-ray is a picture of the body created by using a high-energy form of light. To create 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 interprets the results into a report. 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.

How do I prepare for my X-ray?

Many X-ray exams require little or no preparation. However, X-ray studies of the kidneys, stomach, small bowel and colon may have special preparations that need to be done a day or two before the exam. In addition, it is recommended that any jewelry, metallic cosmetics or metallic body piercings that might be in the area of the examination, be removed. If you are having an exam that requires special preparations, you will receive any necessary instructions at the time you schedule your exam. 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.

What can I expect the day of my 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.