What Is an X-ray?

An X-ray, which is short for x-radiation, is a type of imaging test that has been utilized for years. With this technology, doctors can see your bones, muscle and more without having to make an incision. This helps them diagnose, treat and monitor a number of different medical conditions. Because the test uses a form of electromagnetic radiation, there are some risks involved in the procedure. However, the benefits far outweigh these potential risks.

X-ray images are created using a machine that sends X-ray particles through the body. The X-ray particles themselves are called photons, and they allow a specialized film or computer to capture the images that are created.

Dense bodily structures, like bone or metal, can prevent most X-ray particles from traveling through them. On the X-ray image, this causes these structures to look white. If a structure contains air, it will appear black on the image created. Muscles, fat, and fluids appear in various gray shades.

Uses of X-Ray

When your doctor asks you to get an X-ray, it’s usually for one of the following reasons:

  • To examine an area where you’re experiencing discomfort or pain
  • To monitor how a disease is progressing, like osteoporosis
  • To check up on how a prescribed treatment is working

X-rays are generally performed on a bone, teeth, the abdomen, chest, mouth, neck, skull, pelvis, hands, and joints, or you can undergo a full body X-ray. Although most people think of broken bones or fractures when they think of X-rays, these images are also useful in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, osteoporosis, infections, cancerous tumors, blocked blood vessels and many more conditions.

How Is the X-Ray Procedure Performed?

When you come to an Envision Radiology imaging center for an X-ray, you will meet with a technologist who is specially trained to perform the procedure. Most X-rays won’t require any special preparation on your part. However, you will have to remove jewelry or other metallic objects and may need to wear medical scrubs (top and pants) or a hospital gown. In some cases, contrast dye is injected beforehand. If you’re pregnant, tell us ahead of time as fetuses are more susceptible to the X-ray’s potential risks.

When you go in for your X-ray, the technologist will tell you how to position your body. Depending on what area of the body that needs to be studied, they may ask you to sit, lie down or stand in several positions during the test. In many cases, you will sit or lie as a large camera attached to a steel arm moves over your body to capture X-ray images. The technologist will ask you to stay as still as possible as motion can blur the images.

What Happens After an X-Ray?

After your X-ray, the technologist will process your images and send them to your doctor. The results from the X-ray could be available that same day or a little later. After your doctor reviews your X-rays, they may offer a diagnosis and prescribe a course of treatment. However, depending on what the X-rays show, they may need to order additional imaging scans, blood work or other diagnostic measures.

Find a Location Near You

With locations throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Colorado, Envision Radiology is proud to be your source for high-quality imaging services. If you’re in need of X-ray imaging, contact a center in one of the following regions: