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Radiation in Healthcare: X-Rays

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Radiation in Healthcare: X-Rays

You likely have had x-rays before. X-rays, formally referred to as radiographs, are common imaging procedures ordered by healthcare providers and dentists. X-ray machines pass x-ray beams (a form of ionizing radiation) through a part of the body to produce images of the tissue, organs, bones, or teeth inside. These images allow healthcare providers and dentists to see if there are problems, like a broken bone or a cavity.

We are all exposed to ionizing radiation every day from the natural environment without any immediate health impacts. Added exposures, from procedures such as medical imaging, can lead to an increase in our cancer risk later in life. X-rays, however, usually use the least amount of radiation compared with other imaging tests.

What You Should Know

Healthcare providers and dentists both use x-rays for your care. A healthcare provider may recommend x-rays to look for bone fractures, some types of tumors, injuries or abnormal masses, and signs of pneumonia in the lungs.

What To Expect

Before the x-ray

  • Make sure to let your healthcare provider or radiologist (medical professional specially trained in radiation procedures) know if you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant.

  • You may be asked to remove anything metallic you are wearing like jewelry or clothing with buttons or zippers.

    During the x-ray

  • You may need to stand or lay down in a certain position or angle while the image is completed.

  • For some dental x-rays you will be asked to bite down on a device that is placed in your mouth in a few different positions.

  • Depending on the part of your body being x-rayed, you might be provided with a lead covering to prevent radiation from reaching other parts of your body.

  • Medical and dental x-rays use very small amounts of radiation and only expose the smallest area of the body needed to get the image to check for a health concern. Your risk of any long-term effects of ionizing radiation from x-rays depends on the part of the body being x-rayed (some organs or tissues are more sensitive than others) and the amount of radiation exposure, which may include the total number of medical procedures using radiation, over time.

    Diagnostic imaging exams provide your health care provider with information about your health. Staff at CCH Radiology are certified in their respective specialties, and most have multiple certifications for different specialties. Learn more about the services available at Campbell County Health Radiology.

    Your healthcare provider or dentist should recommend an x-ray when they believe that the benefits to your health outweigh this small risk. Talk to your healthcare provider or dentist if you have concerns and to decide when x-rays are the best choice for you.

  • Category: Radiology