How to Prepare for an X-Ray?
Most X-rays do not require special preparation.
You may be required to remove some or all of your clothing. You may also be required to remove jewelry, glasses, or other metal objects from the body part being filmed. The reason for this is the possibility of overlapping these objects on X-ray images with body structures, which makes image analysis difficult.
Given the possible harmful effects of ionizing radiation on the fetus, women of childbearing age should inform radiology staff of a possible pregnancy. Then, if possible, the X-ray will be replaced by another radiological method that does not use ionizing radiation. If an X-ray is necessary, then all measures will be taken to keep the dose of radiation that the fetus will receive as low as possible.
What does an X-ray look like?
A medical radiology engineer (radiological technologist), a person trained to perform radiological examinations, will place you in a position that is optimal for imaging of the desired part of the body. If necessary, sandbags, various ribbons, or pillows will be placed around the examined part of the body to achieve the correct imaging position. A protective apron containing lead will protect your body (primarily the pelvis, breasts and neck) from radiation.
You should be completely calm during the recording, and depending on the type of recording, you may be asked to hold your breath briefly during imaging, so that the image would not be disturbed by movement, resulting in a blurred image.
During the imaging, the staff is outside the room where the patient is being imaged, but they are constantly observing the patient through an opening with a protective glass.
One body part is usually shot from multiple projections, so two or three shots of the same body part are common. Sometimes, for comparison, it is necessary to image the same part of the body on the healthy side.
After imaging is completed, you will be asked to wait until the medical radiology engineer (radiology technologist) checks whether the image which was made is good and that all the necessary images have been made.
What to expect during and after an X-ray?
X-ray imaging is a painless diagnostic method and no reactions should be expected after imaging.
What are the benefits and what are the risks of X-rays?
• X-rays are the fastest and easiest way to see changes in bones and joints caused by injury, inflammation, or some other disease.
• X-ray devices are widely available in most healthcare facilities, and X-rays are relatively inexpensive.
• No radiation remains in the patient's body after the X-ray.
• X-rays do not interfere with other diagnostic tests.
• There is a small risk of cancer caused by higher exposure to X-rays. However, the benefit obtained by X-ray outweighs the mentioned risk.
• On one bone x-ray, the patient is exposed to radiation of approximately 0.001 mSv. The annual dose of radiation from the environment (sun, various radioactive substances in the country, etc.), to which we are all exposed, is about 3 mSv. Thus, the effective dose of radiation that the body receives during one bone scan is equal to the dose of radiation that the body receives from the environment in the course of a single day. In X-rays of the spine, the equivalent radiation dose is 1.5 mSv, which corresponds to the radiation dose that the body receives from the environment for 6 months.
• Women who are referred for an X-ray should always inform their doctor or radiology staff of any possibility of pregnancy.
Special attention in X-ray imaging is paid to the use of the lowest possible radiation dose in order to achieve the best possible effect. Radiological associations are constantly monitoring and improving the technical search standards used in radiology.
As with other medical procedures, the use of X-rays is safe when used with care and professionalism. The radiology staff is trained to use the lowest possible dose of radiation to achieve the desired result - a quality X-ray. The amount of ionizing radiation used is small compared to the profit and exceeds the possible risk.
X-rays are generated and exist only momentarily at the time of X-ray imaging. By the same principle as visible light, X-rays do not exist after the switch is turned off.
Pregnancy and X-ray
Due to the possible harmful effects of ionizing radiation on the fetus, women of childbearing age must inform the radiology staff about a possible pregnancy. Then, if possible, X-rays will be replaced by some other radiological method that does not use ionizing radiation (ultrasound, magnetic resonance). If an X-ray is necessary, then all measures will be taken to keep the dose of radiation that the fetus will receive as low as possible.
What are the limitations of X-rays?
Although X-rays clearly and in detail show bone and its structure, they provide little information about soft tissue structures (muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc.).
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a useful radiological method in the examination of soft tissues: rupture of ligaments and tendons, damage to the meniscus and cartilage, effusions in the joints, nerve structures of the spine. MR can also show bone bruising when we do not have a visible bone fracture.
Ultrasound (US) diagnostics uses ultrasound waves instead of ionizing radiation. It is useful in the diagnostics of superficial soft tissue structures around bones and joints (ligaments, tendons, joint effusion, joint capsule).