General diagnostic exams may be ordered by your physician to diagnose conditions in the chest, bone, sinuses, skull, or spine. It is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. X-ray is the fastest and easiest way for a physician to view and assess broken bones. It can also be used to diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative diseases.
Unlike most forms of radiation, x-rays can pass through body tissue, making it possible to provide images of internal structures without performing surgery. During the procedure, electormagnetic radiation passes through the body onto film. Dense structures such as bone absorb most of the radiation and appear white on developed film. Structures that are less dense appear in lighter shades of gray and black.
There is no special preparation required for most x-rays. Once you arrive, you may be asked by the technologist to change into a gown before your examination. You will also be asked to remove jewlery, eyeglasses, and any metal objects that may obscure the images. During the procedure you may be standing up or laying down on an examination table.
There is little reason to worry about the small amount of radiation you will be exposed to when you receive an x-ray. However, if you are pregnant or suspect that you may be, you should tell your physician or technologist before the test is performed, as special precautions may have to be taken.