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What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a picture of the body produced by X-rays in a similar way to a normal photograph being produced by light. An X-ray machine produces a burst of high energy radiation which passes through the body to produce an image on a film or detector. The images are then used to show bone and some soft tissue in an area specified by a healthcare professional. You cannot see or feel an X-ray, they are a quick and simple way of looking at the inner body.

What do I do before my X-ray?

Your appointment letter will tell you the date, time and department to attend for your X-ray. Unless you are told otherwise, no special preparation is needed. There are, however, a few things you can do to make your appointment run more smoothly:

  • We advise that you leave any valuables at home 
  • Please wear clothing that has no metallic or plastic parts such as buttons, zips and hooks, this may avoid the need to change into a hospital gown for your examination
  • If you have any disabilities or special needs please telephone the department on the number detailed in the appointment letter so that we can ensure your needs are met and, if necessary, allow extra time for your appointment 
  • Some X-ray tables (couches/beds) have a patient weight limit for safe use - usually 120-130kg (approx 20 stone). If you feel this may cause a problem please telephone the X-ray department on the number detailed in your appointment letter

What will happen when I arrive for my X-ray?

  • When you arrive at the hospital, a member of staff will greet you and check your personal details, name, date of birth and address 
  • You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have
  • You may be asked to change into a gown
What will happen during the X-ray?

The X-ray will be carried out by a Radiographer or other healthcare practitioner. You may be asked to lie on a couch (X-ray table), stand against a vertical board (upright) or sit in a chair, depending upon the body part to be X-rayed.

The Radiographer will manoeuvre you into the correct position, which may involve them touching the area to be X-rayed to feel for your bones and ensure you are in the correct position. They will then position the X-ray tube (camera) correctly by shining a light on the area to be X-rayed. You will be asked to keep still and sometimes to hold your breath for a few seconds while the Radiographer takes the X-ray. You will not see or feel the X-ray, but you may hear a noise from the X-ray tube (camera). This procedure may happen several times, using different positions depending upon the area being X-rayed.

You will be asked to wait while your images are processed. Once the Radiographer is happy with the technical outcome of the images the examination will be over and you will be able to leave the department.

How long does the X-ray take?

The examination normally takes between 10 and 30 minutes, although the actual duration will depend on the area of your body being examined.

What happens after the X-ray?

Once the examination is complete you will be able to leave the department and undertake your normal activities. A Consultant Radiologist will report on your X-rays and the results will be sent to the referrer (doctor or other healthcare professional, who requested the examination). You will need to make an appointment with the referrer (doctor or healthcare professional) to receive your results.

Are there any risks from X-rays?

There is very little risk with having an X-ray. The use of X-rays in hospitals is subject to strict regulations and the use of X-rays is assessed on the principle that the risk of having the X-ray examination outweighs the risk of not having the X-ray examination. X-ray examinations are therefore only performed when absolutely necessary.

When X-rays are taken, some of the energy in the X-ray beam is absorbed in the body. This is called the radiation dose. Because diagnostic X-ray examinations involve relatively low doses, these doses are often compared to natural background radiation. Female patients who are, or might be pregnant, should tell the Radiographer who will decide if special precautions need to be taken.

You should not worry about the radiation from the X-ray as your doctor feels there is a need to investigate a potential problem, so the risk of not having the investigation could be greater.

Find your nearest hospital

67 Lansdowne Road
Bournemouth
BH1 1RW

01202 291866

Shenfield Road
Brentwood
CM15 8EH

01277 695695

Warren Road
Brighton
BN2 6DX

01273 624488

3 Clifton Hill
Clifton
Bristol
BS8 1BN

01179 872 727

4 Trumpington Road
Cambridge
CB2 8AF

01223 303336

The Vale Hospital
Hensol Castle Park
Vale of Glamorgan
CF72 8JX

02920 836714

Hatherley Lane
Cheltenham
GL51 6SY

01242 246552

Wrexham Road
Chester
CH4 7QP

01244 680444

78 Broyle Road
Chichester
PO19 6WB

01243 530600

Rykneld Road
Derby
DE23 4SN

01332 540100

Wonford Road
Exeter
EX2 4UG

01392 262110

25 Beaconsfield Road
Glasgow
G12 0PJ

0800 616267

Stirling Road
Guildford
GU2 7RF

01483 555805

Burrell Road
Haywards Heath
RH16 1UD

01444 456999

Venns Lane
Hereford
HR1 1DF

01432 262502

Foxhall Road
Ipswich
IP4 5SW

01473 279100

2 Leighton Street
Leeds
LS1 3EB

01133 882000

Scraptoft Lane
Leicester
LE5 1HU

01162 769401

Clayton Road
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131

Clayton Road
Newcastle-under-Lyme
ST5 4DB

01782 625431

Beech Road
Headington
Oxford
OX3 7RP

01865 307777

Derriford Road
Plymouth
PL6 8BG

01752 775861

Longden Road
Shrewsbury
SY3 9DP

01743 282628

Staplegrove Elm
Taunton
TA2 6AN

01823 286991

Junction Road
Norton
Stockton on Tees
TS20 1PX

01642 367439

Kingswood Road
Tunbridge Wells
TN2 4UL

01892 531111

The Chase
Old Milverton Lane
Leamington Spa
CV32 6RW

01926 436351

Winchester Road
Chandlers Ford
Eastleigh
SO53 2DW

02380 266377

Shores Road
Woking
GU21 4BY

01483 227800

Wood Road
Tettenhall
Wolverhampton
WV6 8LE

01902 793257

Haxby Road
York
YO31 8TA

01904 715000
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