An X-ray (also called radiography) is a painless test that is used to see inside the body and differentiate between soft tissues and dense matter (such as bones). An X-ray is commonly used for locating fractures and infections in the bones and detecting benign or cancerous tumors, arthritis, blocked blood vessels, or tooth decay. It can also be used for diagnosing digestive tract problems or swallowed foreign objects. If you know what to expect and how to prepare for the procedure, you can make the process go more smoothly and yourself less anxious.
Preparing for an X-Ray
1. Consult your doctor before the procedure.
2. Ask if you need to be fasting. Depending on the type of X-ray test you receive, your doctor may ask you to fast before the exam. This is usually only necessary for certain X-rays of your digestive tract. Fasting normally requires you to not eat or drink for eight to 12 hours before your test.
3. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Dress comfortably for an X-ray because you will most likely be removing your outfit prior to the exam and/or sitting and waiting for an extended period of time.
4. Remove all jewelry, glasses, and metal objects. It is best to leave your jewelry at home as you may need to remove it for the exam. If you wear glasses, you may need to remove these as well.
5. Arrive early to your appointment. Just in case you need to fill out additional paperwork, it is better to arrive early to your appointment. Also, you may be asked to take a contrast medium before the test.
6. Empty your bladder prior to the procedure if you are having an abdominal X-ray.
7. Be prepared to drink a contrast medium (if applicable).
8. Be aware that you may have to hold your breath for a few seconds during the X-ray.
9. Expect not to feel anything during the X-ray exam.
Understanding the Different Types of X-Rays
1. Know what to expect during a chest X-ray.
2. Learn what to expect during a bone X-ray.
3. Know if you need an upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract X-ray.
4. Know what to expect during a lower GI tract X-ray.
5. Learn the details of a joint X-ray. An arthrography is a special X-ray used to diagnose conditions that affect your joints.