An x-ray is a painless, quick test that an x-ray technician conducts on a patient’s body to produce images of certain body structures that are not viewable from the outside. X-ray beams are absorbed into the body based on the body material it is passing through. Bones, metal and other dense materials appear white on X rays while less dense materials and organs like lungs appear black. Muscle and fat show up in shades of gray.
Risks Involved in a Medical X-Ray
There are a number of risks involved in undergoing an x-ray test. They include:
Exposure to Radiation
While the benefits of an x-ray test (PDF) often overshadow the risks, increased exposure to radiation via X-ray beams may increase your susceptibility to cancer through cell mutations. Radiation sensitivity depends on a person’s age and the amount of radiation used in an x ray test will depend on the organ or tissue your physician is examining. X-rays are discouraged for pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about your pregnancy before going through an X-ray test to avoid harming your unborn child.
Some X-ray tests require the patient to be injected with a contrast medium, which can cause certain side effects in certain people. Some of the common side effects of a contrast medium injection include:
- Metallic taste
- A flushing/warmth feeling
Some patients get severe reactions that may include:
- Cardiac arrest
- Severe low blood pressure
- Anaphylactic shock
Getting Ready for an X-Ray
You should get ready for your x-ray exam based on the type of x-ray you will be undergoing. Your doctor or nurse should guide you accordingly. All the same, here are some general ways that you can get ready for your x-ray test:
- You may need to wear a gown
- Typically, you will undress the area being examined. The X-ray technician will often ask you to wear a gown and remove things like eyeglasses, jewelry and other metal objects that could obstruct the X-ray images.
Contrast Medium Injection
There are certain types of x-rays where a contrast medium is necessary. This liquid helps in outlining specific body areas that the x-ray should capture. Some contrast mediums are swallowed while others are injected.
For routine x-rays, a patient can resume his normal activities immediately. However, for those patients who may have been injected with a contrast medium, it is important to drink a lot of water and other fluids as a way of ridding the body of the contrast material. In cases of swelling, redness or pain at the site of the injection, call your doctor immediately.
Your x-ray will be available immediately after the test. Radiologists from accredited x ray technician schools in New York should effortlessly interpret the results and send a report to your physician. The doctor will then explain to you what the results mean to you and your health. With the advancement in technology in X-ray examinations, there is no reason why you should be afraid of undergoing an x-ray test. A little preparation will keep you at ease through the whole process.