A very handy imaging test, X-rays have been used for medical purposes for a very long period of time. It helps a doctor study the bone structure and muscles of the body, without performing a surgical procedure. An X-ray allows diagnosis of a number of minor conditions, which can then be effectively treated.
It is generally a very quick procedure and quite painless. X-rays are mostly used to check for broken bones. But they are also done to detect other conditions and health problems. For instance, the doctor may recommend a mammogram (an X-ray of the breasts) if he/she suspects breast cancer. Similarly an X-ray of the chest may be done to detect pneumonia. An X-ray is also done to check how well a treatment is progressing. A doctor may recommend an X-ray to detect various problems like arthritis, infections, tooth decay, lung problems as well as locating swallowed items.
The radiation that one is exposed to when he/she gets an X-ray done is generally in very small amounts and therefore does not cause much damage. An X-ray test does pose to be risky but in the case of most individuals, the benefits of the test outweigh than the potential risks.
There are no special steps required for one to prepare for this test. Depending on the part of the body that needs to be X-rayed, one should put on loose clothes to be comfortable. Ensure that you are not wearing any jewelry during the time of the X-ray. Patients are generally asked to change into a hospital gown before the X-ray is done. Depending on the kind of X-ray being done a dye may also be administered for clarity of images.
The X-ray is generally done at a hospital’s department of radiology, or a diagnostic centre. Once you have changed for the test, the technician will guide you to position the part of your body which has to be X-rayed. You will be asked to stand, lie down or sit depending on the requirements. While the images are being taken one should stay still to ensure clarity of the picture. The test is completed once the technician is satisfied with the images that he has taken.
Any healthy adult or child can undergo and X-ray.
An X-ray makes use of radiation to take images of the body. Very small quantity of radiation is used during the test, which is quite safe for adults but can be highly damaging to a foetus. Thus, pregnant women should inform their doctors if they are asked to undergo an X-ray. An alternative form of imaging test, like an MRI, can be opted for in this case.
In case the X-ray is being performed to detect a broken bone, slight pain and discomfort may be experienced during the test. This is because one needs to hold the body very still during this imaging test.
If a dye is administered for an X-ray, some side effects may occur, such as- itching, hives light-headedness, a feeling nausea and bad taste in the mouth. The dye can also lead to severe side-effects like an anaphylactic shock or a heart attack. But such reactions are very rare. If you are showing symptoms of either of the severe reactions get in touch with your doctor immediately.
Once the X-ray is done and the patient has changed into his own clothes, the doctor assesses his/her condition. Accordingly, he/she is advised to return back to his routine activities or take some rest. Once the results of the X-ray are in, the images are reviewed and depending on the severity of the problem, a relevant treatment is advised. Additional tests may also be advised after the X-ray reports are in. These tests include other types of imaging scans like an MRI and blood tests.
Depending on the kind of X-ray that is done one can resume daily activities immediately or rest for some time to recover from the test.
X-ray imaging costs about Rs 250- Rs 700 in India. The price may be more if an advanced form of X-ray is required.
X-ray is an imaging test, which is done to diagnose a medical problem. There are no permanent results associated with this procedure
An ultrasound test and MRI scan are effective alternatives to an X-ray.