What’s the Purpose of an X-ray?

May 18, 2021
What’s the Purpose of an X-ray?- AFC Urgent Care

It’s safe to say that no one actively wants an X-ray, but when you’re experiencing worrisome pain, they are extremely helpful tools. Although things like bone X-rays are so common, what actually happens when you get an X-ray?

Our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team explains the purpose and other facts you need to know about X-rays below.

What Does an X-ray Do?

X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs on film or digital media. Standard X-rays are performed for many reasons, including diagnosing tumors or bone injuries.

When the body undergoes an X-ray, different parts of the body allow varying amounts of the X-ray beams to pass through. Soft tissues, such as muscles and ligaments, allow most of the X-ray beams to pass through, so they show up dark gray on the film or digital media. Bones and tumors let fewer X-ray beams pass through, so they will show up white on the screen.

Reasons to Consider Getting an X-ray

  • Inability to walk four steps
  • Joint immobility
  • Pain directly around the bone area
  • Swelling that doesn’t reduce with treatment

Are There Risks Involved?

There are small risks, but because X-rays are one of the oldest and most common forms of medical imaging, doctors say the benefit of making the correct diagnosis outweighs the risks.

Still, there are a few safety issues to consider, and we’ve listed them below.

X-ray Safety Issues

  • Slight cancer risk. Too much radiation exposure can cause cancer, but the amount in an X-ray is generally low. Adults are less sensitive to radiation than children.
  • Pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you might be. They may use a different imaging test so your baby isn’t exposed to radiation.
  • Reaction to contrast agent. There’s a chance you could have an allergic reaction, but it’s rare. Ask your doctor what symptoms to watch for and let him or her know if you have pain, swelling or redness at the site of the shot.

Kids need X-rays at times, too! Though they are younger and less prone to injuries, things can happen at things like McCallie summer and sports camps. Don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga if you or your child need an X-ray.

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