X-rays are waves of electromagnetic energy. When directed at a target, X-rays can often pass through the substance uninterrupted, especially when it is of low density. High density targets (like the human body) will reflect or absorb the X-rays. They do this because there is less space between the atoms for the short waves to pass through. X-rays are one of the most common radiology procedures. X-rays produce a still picture of bones and organs.

Indications for X-rays

X-rays may be performed to look for abnormalities in bone and soft tissues that may be causing certain symptoms.

Procedure for X-ray

X-rays are usually performed by a radiologist or X-ray technician. You may be instructed to remove jewelry or metal objects that may interfere with the test or results.

The examiner positions you according to the area that needs imaging. The X-ray beam is then directed across the area. You will have to remain still during the procedure and may be instructed to hold your breath. X-rays may be repeated or taken from different angles for clarity.

A contrast dye which is visible on X-rays may sometimes be injected or swallowed before or during the procedure to help improve the clarity of certain areas.

Once the test is complete, you can resume your regular activities. Your radiologist and doctor will review the results and discuss the findings with you.

Risks and Complications of X-rays

X-ray imaging is a safe diagnostic tool that is extensively used to detect many conditions and abnormalities. Small amounts of radiation are used during X-rays. It may carry a small risk of affecting a developing fetus and therefore must be avoided during pregnancy.

Side effects are uncommon when a dye is used to improve the image quality, but may include allergic reaction, nausea, hives, itching and lightheadedness.

X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool to help your physician identify a variety of conditions. Based on the results, further testing or treatments are ordered by your doctor. You must Inform your doctor if you think you might be pregnant before undergoing any X-rays.