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X-Ray Services at Palomar Health

What is an X-Ray?

X-Ray (or Radiography) is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. Radiographs are created by passing small, highly controlled amounts of radiation through the human body, capturing the resulting shadows and reflections of bone and tissue on a photographic plate. X-Rays are the fastest and easiest way for a physician to view and assess broken and/or injured bones.

Common Uses of This Procedure

Probably the most common use of radiographs is to assist the physician in identifying and treating fractures. Images can show very fine hairline fractures or chips, while images produced after treatment ensure that a fracture has been properly aligned and stabilized for healing. Chest and abdominal X-Rays can image fluid and air levels, kidney or gallstones and tissue inflammation.

How Does it Work?

Radiography involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of radiation to produce an image of the internal organs. When x-rays penetrate the body, they are absorbed in varying amounts by different parts of the anatomy. Bones will absorb more radiation than tissue so they will appear white or light gray on the image. Soft tissue such as the liver or lungs will appear darker because it absorbs less radiation. Broken bones or malignancies in the bone can usually be detected with radiography.

What Should I Expect?

The technologist positions the patient on the examination table, places a flat holder (cassette) under the table or under the area of the body to be imaged. Then the technologist goes to a small adjacent room and asks the patient to hold still without breathing for a few seconds. The radiographic equipment is activated, sending a beam of x-rays through the body part which produces a picture on the film. The technologist then positions the patient for another view and the process is repeated as necessary.

Patient Preparation

You may be asked to change into a gown for the X-ray depending the body part under examination. There is no special preparation required for most plain film radiographs such as bone, the chest and abdomen.

Exam Results

Your exam will be read and a report will be phoned, faxed or mailed to your physician promptly. He/she will share the results with you.