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An X-ray machine produces images of the inside of the body. It is effective in assessing bones and other dense structures within the body.

What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a fast and painless examination which is highly effective in assessing bones and other dense structures within the body. 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. You cannot see or feel an X-ray, they are a quick and simple way of looking inside of the body.

This video explains what to expect during X-ray, CT (CAT) and MRI scanning.

How will I know if I need an X-ray?

Your healthcare professional will refer you for an X-ray if they feel that it is clinically appropriate for you. X-rays can be used on many body parts to assess a wide range of health concerns, one of which is the mouth and jaw.

How can I book an X-ray?

To book an X-ray, you will need a referral from a healthcare professional. If you have an outpatient consultation with a Nuffield Health consultant, they will refer you for a scan if clinically appropriate. You can also use a referral from your own GP or alternative healthcare professional, just email your referral to your chosen Nuffield Health hospital and a member of the team will call you back.

How should I prepare for an X-ray?

Most X-rays do not require any specific preparation, but you will be informed at the time of booking if any preparation is required. If you are having an abdominal X-ray, please contact the team if you think there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Where possible, it is always best to attend the radiology department with a minimal amount of accessory clothing or jewellery as you will likely be asked to change into a hospital gown to maximise the quality of the images produced.

What happens during an X-ray?

You will be asked to stand, lie, or sit in a desired position to allow the radiographer to image your limb, joint or required body part. During these images, you could be asked to hold your breath for a short period or to adopt an uncomfortable position, though the time you spend in it will be kept to a minimum.

Depending on which area you are having scanned, or if the clinician requires specific types of X-rays, you could have either a single image or multiple images taken with you in different positions.

How long does an X-ray take?

Each X-ray image takes only a few seconds, but depending upon how many images are being taken and if any specialist variants are asked for, you could be in the department for around 20 minutes.

Are X-rays safe?

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.

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.

How/when will I receive my results?

Your results will be verified by a Radiologist and sent to your referring healthcare professional within a week of your appointment. Times may vary for specialist examinations, so we recommend checking with the hospital team before you leave. Your referrer may recommend a follow-up appointment to discuss your results.

Haywards Heath Hospital

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