X-ray is a safe and painless procedure often used to produce images of the inside of the body. It is a very effective way of looking at fractured bones, such as a broken arm or wrist. An x-ray can also be used to examine organs and identify problems. For example, an x-ray will show up an infection in your lungs, such as pneumonia.
X-rays are also often used during therapeutic procedures, such as a coronary angioplasty, to help the surgeon guide equipment to the area being treated.
How X-Rays Work
X-rays are a type of radiation. Light and x-rays are similar sources of energy. However, light has a much lower frequency than x-rays and is absorbed by your skin. X-rays have a higher frequency and pass through the human body. As x-rays pass through the body, energy particles in them (called photons) are absorbed at different rates. This pattern shows up on the x-ray images.
The parts of your body that are made up of dense material, such as your bones, show up as clear white areas on an x-ray image. The parts of your body that are made of softer material, such as your heart and lungs, show up as darker areas.
Having an X-Ray
X-rays are carried out by radiographers who are healthcare professionals trained to use imaging technology, including x-ray machines, computerised tomography (ct) scanners and ultrasound scanners. During an x-ray you will be asked to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface so that the part of your body being examined is positioned between the x-ray machine and a photographic plate.
The x-ray will last for a fraction of a second. As the x-rays hit the photographic plate, the plate captures a snapshot of the image. The resulting image will be transferred to a computer so it can be studied on a screen and printed out if necessary.