What you should know about x-rays

What you should know about x-rays

Hearing that you will need an x-ray can be a scary thought. And most of the time, you may think needing an x-ray means you might have a broken bone. However, x-rays are a powerful tool that your care team can use to evaluate many conditions.

Aubrey Maurer, a radiology technologist at Advocate Health Care, answers common questions you may have about x-rays:

What is an x-ray?

An x-ray is a screening tool that produces images of certain parts of the body including tissues, organs and bones.

What conditions can be diagnosed from an x-ray?

Other than broken bones, x-rays can diagnose conditions such as pleural effusion, pneumothorax, pneumonia, pulmonary nodules, bowel obstruction and metastatic lesions. The imaging also can detect cancers in early stages which may improve prognosis.

Or if you have an upcoming surgery, you may be asked to get an x-ray so your surgeon can proactively view your anatomy and create a plan for surgery.

What if you don’t know if you need an x-ray?

If you are unsure if you need an x-ray, follow up with your primary care provider or visit an emergency room. Your doctor will assess whether the imaging is necessary for your condition or situation.

Are they safe?

X-rays do require radiation to create proper imaging. But radiology experts follow the principle of ALARA or “as low as reasonably achievable.” In other words, your technologist will use the lowest amount of radiation possible to provide quality images, keeping your safety top of mind.

Why did you get a CT or MRI after an x-ray?

Typically, an x-ray is performed before other imaging since it’s the most widely available, cost-effective screening technology. A CT or MRI might be ordered if your doctor needs additional visualization or further exploration of your condition.

Most importantly, x-rays are an important tool in accurately diagnosing conditions to prevent further harm to your body. If you suspect you need an x-ray, seek medical attention.

Want to learn more about your risk for lung cancer? Take a free online quiz to learn more.

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About the Author

Anna Kohler
Anna Kohler

Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is an external communications specialist for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She received her bachelor's degree in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in health care public relations and content marketing for over five years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family, and keeping up with the latest social media trends.