What are X-rays?
X-rays are a form of radiation. We can use this radiation to create black-and-white pictures of the body’s interior. This is because different parts of the body absorb X-rays differently.
Bones absorb X-rays the easiest, so they appear white on X-ray images. Other tissues absorb smaller amounts of radiation, so they appear gray or black in the images.
We can take X-ray images of many parts of the body, such as the:
X-ray tests we offer
The most common way doctors use X-rays is to examine and diagnose broken bones or joint dislocations. This is sometimes called general X-ray. But we use X-rays in a number of ways to help us diagnose many other conditions. The X-ray tests we offer include:
- Arthrogram, which we use to study joint problems or to guide joint injections
- Sniff test, which helps us evaluate diaphragm function as part of lung care
- Epidural steroid injection, in which we use X-ray to guide us as we inject anti-inflammatory medication around the spinal nerves
- Lumbar puncture, an image-guided procedure we use to access the spinal canal
- Barium enema, an exam that helps us detect colon and rectal cancer, blockages, polyps, or other problems
- Defecography, which helps us study the function of the rectum during defecation
- Esophagram and barium swallow, which helps us detect upper digestive tract problems, like ulcers, and some digestive cancers
- Modified barium swallow, a test we use to evaluate swallowing function, which can be damaged by a stroke or swallowing disorder
- Small bowel series, which helps us detect problems in the upper digestive tract, like blockages, tumors, and other conditions
- Upper GI series, which helps us find ulcers, tumors, and other conditions
- Hysterosalpingogram, which helps us see the female reproductive organs
- Intravenous pyelogram, in which we take X-ray images to find kidney stones and other problems within the urinary tract
- Voiding cystogram, which is imagine of the bladder before and during urination
- Venogram, which we use to examine the veins
How should I prepare for an X-ray?
Many X-rays we offer require no special preparation.
You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during your X-ray. We also ask that you remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eyeglasses, and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the X-ray images in order for us to get an accurate picture.
Women should always inform their doctors and X-ray technologists if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an X-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the fetus.