When is an X-ray imaging needed?
X-rays are used to confirm and assist health care practitioners (your surgeon and internist) to make a diagnosis and care decisions.
Commonly used to:
- detect injury to bones such as fractures
- dentify bone deformities
- verify healing of bones
- verify healing after surgical implants such as knee and hip replacements
- verify placement of other medical devices such as implantable pumps and catheters
- detect infection
- detect lung disorders or pneumonia (chest X-ray)
- locate foreign objects in soft tissue
Your health care practitioner at our Hospital will determine if X-ray imaging is necessary in your case.
What happens during the examination?
Our assistant positions your body to obtain the necessary views. During the X-ray imaging, you are kindly asked to remain still and sometimes hold your breath to avoid moving so that the image doesn’t blur.
An X-ray imaging may take from a few minutes for a bone X-ray to more than an hour for more complex procedures, such as those using a contrast medium.
How does radiography work?
The X-ray machine produces a safe level of radiation that passes through most objects, including the body and records an image on a specialized plate so that you cannot feel it. The X-rays that pass through the area is being X-rayed are captured by a detector placed behind. The detector can then provide a superimposed 2D representation of internal structures.
Contrast radiography uses a radiocontrast agent, a type of contrast medium – such as iodine-based contrast material or barium-, to make the structures of interest stand out visually from their background, whereas plain radiography does not.
What are the benefits and risks?
Radiography can help to confirm the presence or absence of a disease or injury. However, the diagnosis of a condition usually requires more than the result of a single examination or test.
Advantages of X-ray imaging compared to other types of imaging techniques:
- fast — the results of X-rays are available in simple cases even within half an hour
- very reliable in examining some organs (e.g. chest X-ray)
- painless and non-invasive
- an X-ray examination doesn’t require any special preparation (except when contrast media is used)
- uses a very small dose of radiation
- no recovery time is required — you can resume your normal activities after an X-ray is finished, routine X-rays usually have no side effects
- minimal radiation exposure
Some people worry that X-rays aren't safe because radiation exposure can cause cell damage that may lead to cancer. The amount of radiation you're exposed to during an X-ray depends on the tissue or organ being examined.
Generally, however, radiation exposure from an X-ray is low, and the benefit from these tests far outweigh the risks. Modern imaging systems at Medicover Hospital have very controlled X-ray beams and dose control methods to minimize stray (scatter) radiation. This ensures that those parts of a patient’s body not being imaged receive as minimal radiation exposure as possible.
- If you are pregnant
If there is any chance you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before having an X-ray.
Though the risk of most diagnostic X-rays to an unborn baby is small, they are not usually recommended for pregnant women, except in an emergency, so your doctor may consider another imaging test, such as ultrasound.
- Contrast medium
In some cases, the injection of a contrast medium can cause side effects such as feeling
warm or a metallic taste. If you are injected with contrast medium before your X-rays,
drink plenty of fluids to help rid your body of it. Call your doctor if you have pain,
swelling or redness at the injection site.
How should I prepare?
Different types of X-rays require different preparations. In general, you undress whatever part of your body needs examination. You may wear a gown during the exam, depending on which area is being X-rayed. You will be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any metal objects because they can show up on an X-ray and disturb the image.
Before some types of X-rays, you’re given a liquid called contrast medium. Contrast mediums – such as barium and iodine-, help outline a specific area of your body on the X-ray image. You may swallow the contrast medium or receive it as an injection or an enema.
What are the limitations of radiography?
While X-ray images are among the clearest, most detailed views of bone, they provide little information about muscles, tendons or joints.
An MRI or CT scan may be more useful in identifying bone and joint injuries (e.g., meniscus and ligament tears in the knee, rotator cuff and labrum tears in the shoulder) and in imaging of the spine (because both the bones and the spinal cord can be evaluated). By an MRI scan the doctor can also detect subtle or occult fractures or bone bruises (also called bone contusions or microfractures) not visible on X-ray images. In case of need, the most advanced MRI and CT scanners are also available at our Hospital.