General Radiography (X-Ray)

What is General Radiography (X-ray)?

X-ray Sample Images

General radiography is the most basic form of medical imaging. It uses x-rays to create a fixed or still image of the inside of the body. Any part of the body can be examined.

The image created is viewed and interpreted by a doctor, called a radiologist, to detect and diagnose medical conditions in the body.
Several different terms, such as "film", "picture", and/or "x-ray", are used to describe the image produced.

After reading (interpreting) an image, the radiologist will dictate a report that will be sent to your referring physician. The radiologist may recommend further investigation through the use of other imaging methods.

What is an X-Ray?

An actual X-ray is a form of energy. Depending on the energy level of an X-ray, it can either penetrate through the body, or is absorbed. The body and its tissues have many different densities, which will affect how an image appears. Areas such as bone are not easily penetrated; therefore, they appear white on an image. Areas such as the lungs, which are mainly air, are penetrated very easily; therefore, they appear black or grayish on an image. You cannot feel an X-ray as it goes through the body.

The X-ray machine consists of either a long table with a camera on top of it, or a large plate against the wall, with the camera pointing at it. The camera does not touch the patient but it may come close. There is a light, which will shine from the camera, to help the technologist position the patient to get the best "picture" possible. It is just like getting your picture taken at home!

What should you do prior to your child's exam?

There are no specific preparations for general X-rays, but here are some general things to remember:

  • Dress your child comfortably, in clothes that are easily removed. (Sweat clothes, t -shirts)
  • Your child may be given a gown to change into for the X-ray, if required.
  • Limit the use of jewelry and/or metal (zippers, snaps) in the area that is being examined.

What should you expect during the exam?

X-ray Procedure

The technologist will ask why the X-ray is being performed and explain the procedure to both you and your child. Procedures vary depending on the part of the body being X-rayed. Most procedures require the technologist to take 2 to 3 images in different positions or from different angles.

  • The technologist will position the patient and point the camera at the body part being examined.
  • The light from the camera will shine on your child's body to help the technologist aim the X-rays.
  • A lead shield will be provided for your child as long as it does not interfere with the exam.
  • If you are accompanying your child into the room, a shield will be provided to you.
  • The technologist will ask your child to hold still and, sometimes, to hold his/her breath for a second.
  • You may be asked to assist holding your child still during the exam. Any type of movement during an X-ray will show up blurry.
  • The images appear on a computer screen and are sent to the radiologist to be read.
  • Your child will not feel the X-rays, but sometimes the required positions for the area being X-rayed are awkward or uncomfortable. These positions only have to be held for a couple of seconds.

Test Results

The images from your child's exam are interpreted on the same day and a report sent to your physician's office.