X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, as is visible light.
The x-ray machine produces x-rays that can penetrate or pass through the body and produce shadow like images of structures such a bones, some of the organs and signs of disease or injury. A computer or special film is used to record the images that are created.
How the test is performed
X-ray studies are performed by a medical imaging technologist (radiographer). The positioning of the patient, x-ray machine, and film depends on the type of study and area being examined. Multiple individual views may be requested.
How to prepare for the test
Inform the medical imaging technologist if you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or have an IUD inserted.
Patients remove all jewellery and wear a hospital gown during the x-ray examination because metal and certain clothing can obscure the images and require repeat studies.
How the test will feel
There is no discomfort from x-ray exposure. Patients may be asked to stay still in awkward positions for a short period of time.
What the risks are
For most x-ray studies, the risk of cancer is very low. Most experts feel that this low risk is largely outweighed by the benefits of information gained from appropriate imaging.
X-rays machines are monitored to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to do the study.
Young children and foetuses are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.