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  • Definition

    X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the inside of the body.
    X-ray of Teeth
    Jaw x-ray teeth
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Reasons for Test

    X-rays can be taken of any part of the body. They are especially good for looking at teeth and injuries to bones.
    X-rays can also be used to:
    • Find an infection, especially pneumonia
    • Look for evidence of arthritis
    • Diagnose heart and large blood vessel problems
    • Look for fluid in the lungs
    • Look for problems in the abdomen
    By using oral, rectal, bladder or intravenous contrast materials they can used for other reasons, including:
    • Looking at the stomach and intestines, gall bladder, or liver
    • Small blood vessel disease
    • Urinary tract or reproductive syatem abnormalities
    • Bleeding
    • Locating tumors
  • Possible Complications

    An x-ray uses radiation to make images. The low levels of radiation from a single x-ray will not affect most people. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant talk to your doctor before the x-ray. Radiation may be harmful to developing babies.
  • What to Expect

    Prior to Test
    Before your x-ray is taken, you may be asked to remove jewelry and put on a hospital gown.
    Let your doctor know if you are pregnant.
    You may be given a type of contrast material.
    Description of Test
    A lead shield may be placed on parts of your body that are not being x-rayed. This will help reduce your exposure to radiation.
    The x-ray device will be placed over the part of your body being studied. You will be asked to remain as still as possible while the images are taken. The x-ray device will send x-rays through your body. The x-rays will be captured on the other side of your body by a computer or on film.
    After Test
    You will be able to resume your daily activities after the x-ray is complete.
    How Long Will It Take?
    A few minutes
    Will It Hurt?
    The x-ray will be sent to a radiologist. A report will be sent to you and/or your doctor.
  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

    American College of Radiology

    Radiation-Emitting ProductsFood and Drug Administration


    Canadian Association of Radiologists

    Canadian Institute for Health Information


    Grainger RG, et al. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

    Patient safety: radiation dose. Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: Accessed. Updated April 25, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.

    Revision Information

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