An x-ray is a type of test that allows doctors to see the inside of your body. Radiography is the science of using x-rays. Radiography is one type of medical imaging that helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions.The medical professionals who do the tests are called x-ray technologists. The doctors who evaluate the results are called radiologists.
In radiography, a machine sends a beam of invisible particles (photons) through the body. This produces an image of the inside of your body on special film or a computer. On the image, your bones appear white, while other parts of the body like fat, liquids and muscle, show as different shades of gray. Air-filled spaces appear black.
How to prepare for an x-ray:
Before the x-ray, your doctor or x-ray technologist will ask if you could be pregnant. While x-rays are safe for children and adults, they can be harmful to unborn babies. You will also need to tell the technologist if you have a pacemaker or cardiac defibrillator. You will usually remove the clothing covering the part of the body that will be x-rayed. Metal objects, jewelry and glasses also can interfere with the imaging process.
What happens during the x-ray?
When you have an x-ray, you will stand, sit or lie in front of the x-ray machine. The technologist will place the film or digital recording plate behind or under the area being examined. Parts of your body not being x-rayed may be covered with a lead apron or shield to block the radiation.
You will need to stand or lie very still to keep the image from blurring. Depending on the location of the image, the technologist may ask you to briefly hold your breath. To activate the machine and take the image, the technician will leave the room and switch on the x-ray. This is done to protect the technician from repeated exposure to radiation.
Your doctor may request several x-ray images with your body in different positions or recorded from different angles. The technicians will look at the images to make sure they are clear before asking you to put your clothes back on.
Once the x-rays are complete, the radiologist will evaluate them and prepare a report for your doctor. Your doctor will use this to diagnose your condition and make a plan for treatment.
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