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An x-ray is an imaging test that uses small doses of radiation. The term “x-ray” is used to describe the rays of radiation, the test and the images they create of internal organs and structures of the body.
An x-ray is also called a radiograph or radiogram.
|Type of x-ray||What is studied|
chest, lungs, heart and surrounding bones
Some x-rays use a contrast mediumcontrast mediumA substance used in some diagnostic procedures to help parts of the body show up better on x-rays or other imaging tests. to produce better images. For example, the contrast medium barium sulphate is used to make organs and structures show up clearly on the x-ray image of an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series.
An x-ray may be done to:
An x-ray is usually done as an outpatient procedure in the x-ray (radiology) department of a hospital or clinic. The test usually takes 10–15 minutes, but may take longer.
X-rays involve low levels of ionizing radiation, which has the potential to cause cancer and other defects. The number and complexity of x-rays needed to diagnose and determine the extent of a disease can vary. Even with multiple and repeated x-rays, the total dose of radiation and the associated risk is small. X-rays are strictly monitored and controlled to make sure they use the smallest amount of radiation possible. The expected benefits of the x-rays must always outweigh any possible risk for the x-rays to be done.
On rare occasions, the contrast medium may cause an allergic reaction.
The shadow-like images on an x-ray are the result of radiation being absorbed differently by different body tissues.
X-rays can be used to look for and examine some types of tumours.
The doctor will decide whether further tests, procedures, follow-up care or additional treatment are needed.
Being prepared for a test or procedure can reduce anxiety, increase cooperation and help the child develop coping skills. Parents and caregivers can help prepare children by explaining to them what will happen, including what they will see, feel and hear during the test.
The preparation you can provide for an x-ray depends on the age and experience of the child. See the following for more age-specific information on helping children cope with tests and treatment.
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