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X-Ray

SRMC has digital x-ray capabilities with direct imaging. Radiologists are able to spot fractures utilizing these electromagnetic waves, but can also use it to detect other problems. Chest x-rays can spot pneumonia in a person's lungs and mammograms can detect breast cancer. All imaging is sent to Advanced Medical Imaging Center in Fort Collins, CO to be read by a radiologist.

What is an x-ray?

An X-ray is a quick, painless test that produces images of the structures inside your body particularly your bones.

X-ray beams pass through your body, and they are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material they pass through. Dense materials, such as bone and metal, show up as white on X-rays. The air in your lungs shows up as black. Fat and muscle appear as shades of gray.

For some types of X-ray tests, a contrast medium such as iodine or barium is introduced into your body to provide greater detail on the images.

How should I prepare for an x-ray?

Different types of X-rays require different preparations. Ask your doctor or nurse to provide you with specific instructions.

What to wear

In general, you undress whatever part of your body needs examination. You may wear a gown during the exam, depending on which area is being X-rayed. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any metal objects because they can show up on an X-ray.

Contrast material

Before some types of X-rays, you're given a liquid called contrast medium. Contrast mediums, such as barium and iodine, help outline a specific area of your body on the X-ray image. You may swallow the contrast medium or receive it as an injection or an enema.

What should I expect during this exam?

X-rays are performed at doctors' offices, dentists' offices, emergency rooms and hospitals wherever an X-ray machine is available. The machine produces a safe level of radiation that passes through your body and records an image on a specialized plate. You can't feel an X-ray.

A technologist positions your body to obtain the necessary views. He or she may use pillows or sandbags to help you hold the position. During the X-ray exposure, you remain still and sometimes hold your breath to avoid moving so that the image doesn't blur.

An X-ray procedure may take from a few minutes for a bone X-ray to more than an hour for more-involved procedures, such as those using a contrast medium.

What will happen after the exam?

After an X-ray, you generally can resume normal activities. Routine X-rays usually have no side effects. However, if you're injected with contrast medium before your X-rays, drink plenty of fluids to help rid your body of it. Call your doctor if you have pain, swelling or redness at the injection site. Ask your doctor about other signs and symptoms to watch for.