A general radiography (X-ray) can be done on the chest, abdomen, pelvis, skull and extremity. It involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of radiation to produce an image of the internal organs. When x-rays penetrate the body, they are absorbed in varying amounts by different parts of the anatomy. Ribs and bones, for example, will absorb much of the radiation and, therefore, appear white or light gray on the image. Lung tissue and other internal organs absorb lesser radiation and appear darker on the image. In this manner a “picture” of the body part is formed.
Chest and bone x-rays are very common examinations.
A chest x-ray is usually done for the evaluation of lungs, heart and surrounding anatomy.
Bone x-ray is the fastest and easiest way for a physician to view and assess broken bones, cracked skull and injured backbone. At least two films are taken of a bone, and often three films if the problem is around a joint(Knee, elbow or wrist).
The procedure requires no special preparation. As x-rays are involved, it is not advisable for women who are pregnant, especially in early pregnancy. To prevent unnecessary irradiation of fetus, female patients will be asked of their last menstrual period. This is especially important in examination of the lower abdomen and pelvis. Generally, 10 days from the beginning of the last menstrual period is considered safe period for x-ray examinations.
You may be requested to change into an x-ray gown to avoid metallic items, buttons and zippers. You will also be asked to remove jewellery, eyeglasses, and any metal objects that could obscure the image.
Once you are positioned in the required pose with the x-ray plate, you may be asked to take a deep breath and hold it or just to hold your breath and keep still. The radiographer will go to another small room or cubicle and activate the x-ray equipment which will send a beam of x-rays to the positioned area. You need to keep still as any movement will lead to an unsharp picture and an accurate diagnosis cannot be made.
When the x-rays are completed you will be asked to wait until the radiographer and radiologist examine the images to determine if more are needed.
This is a painless procedure. The only discomfort results from the coldness of the x-ray plate. Sometimes to get a clear image of an injury, you may be asked to hold onto an uncomfortable position for a short time. Any movement could blur the image and make it necessary to repeat the procedure to get a useful, clear picture.
The radiologist (specialist doctor) will review the image and the report will be sent to your doctor who will then discuss the scan results with you. If requested by your doctor, the films may be handed directly to you to return to your doctor.