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Doctor showing chest x-ray on digital tablet to patient

X-rays are one of the most common types of diagnostic tests used in modern medicine. During an x-ray, electromagnetic waves are aimed at a specific area of the body, taking pictures of the bones and any calcifications within the body’s soft tissues and organs. Patients often visit an urgent care center for x-rays following an accident or after new symptoms have appeared.

Did you know…

that x-rays are safe for the average person? In fact, the National Institutes of Health report that most x-rays give off no more radiation than the amount you would receive naturally from the environment over the course of 1 to 2 weeks. Despite the relatively small levels of radiation, some patients may still be instructed to wear lead aprons as a precaution to protect certain areas of the body from exposure during an x-ray.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need an x-ray?

There are many reasons why your doctor may order an x-ray. Frequently, patients undergo x-rays to detect broken bones associated with an injury. However, x-rays may also be used in other circumstances, such as to detect pneumonia. Only your doctor can determine whether an x-ray is appropriate for you.

What should I expect during an x-ray?

An x-ray takes only seconds to complete, with most of the time spent preparing for it. Your doctor or x-ray technician will instruct you to stand or lie down in front of the x-ray machine in a specific position. He or she may place a lead apron over you to protect your abdomen from radiation exposure. The image is taken quickly and painlessly, allowing your doctor to review the results nearly immediately.

How will the doctor use the results from my x-ray?

Your doctor may be able to make a complete diagnosis based on an x-ray alone. However, some patients require additional testing or diagnostic imaging. Based on the results of your x-rays and tests, your doctor will make a diagnosis and develop a plan for treatment.