Contact us 0345 602 8179
phone

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.

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


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 that provides this test
Bournemouth  

67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW

01202 291866
Overall rating View rating
Brentwood  

Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH

01277 695695
Overall rating Good
Brighton  

Warren Road, Brighton, BN2 6DX

01273 624488
Overall rating Meeting standards
Bristol  

3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870
Overall rating Good
Cambridge  

4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF

01223 303336
Overall rating Outstanding
Cardiff and Vale  

Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavey Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN

02920 836700
Cheltenham  

Hatherley Lane, Cheltenham, GL51 6SY

01242 246 500
Overall rating Good
Chester  

Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP

01244 680 444
Overall rating Good
Chichester  

78 Broyle Road, Chichester, PO19 6WB

01243 530600
Overall rating Good
Derby  

Rykneld Road, Derby, DE23 4SN

01332 540100
Overall rating Good
Exeter  

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

01392 262110
Overall rating Good
Glasgow  

25 Beaconsfield Road, Glasgow, G12 0PJ

01413349441
Guildford  

Stirling Road, Guildford, GU2 7RF

01483 555805
Overall rating Good
Haywards Heath  

Burrell Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1UD

01444 456999
Overall rating Good
Hereford  

Venns Lane, Hereford, HR1 1DF

01432 355 131
Overall rating Good
Ipswich  

Foxhall Road, Ipswich, IP4 5SW

01473 279100
Overall rating Good
Leeds  

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

01133 882 067
Overall rating Outstanding
Leicester  

Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1HY

0116 2769 401
Overall rating Good
Manchester Diagnostic Suite  

Nelson Street, Manchester, M13 9NQ

0161 272 5890
Overall rating Unknown
Newcastle upon Tyne  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131
Overall rating Good
North Staffordshire  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 4DB

01782 625431
Overall rating Good
Oxford  

Beech Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7RP

01865 307777
Overall rating Good
Plymouth  

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775861
Overall rating View rating
Shrewsbury  

Longden Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 9DP

01743 282628
Overall rating Good
Taunton  

Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN

01823 286991
Overall rating Good
Tees  

Junction Road, Norton, Stockton on Tees, TS20 1PX

01642 367439
Overall rating Outstanding
Tunbridge Wells  

Kingswood Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 4UL

01892 531111
Overall rating Good
Warwickshire  

The Chase, Old Milverton Lane, Leamington Spa, CV32 6RW

01926 436351
Overall rating Good
Wessex  

Winchester Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 2DW

02380 266 377
Overall rating Good
Woking  

Shores Road, Woking, GU21 4BY

01483 227800
Overall rating Good
Wolverhampton  

Wood Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, WV6 8LE

01902 754 177
Overall rating Good
York  

Haxby Road, York, YO31 8TA

01904 715000
Overall rating Good

Get in touch

Fill in an enquiry form below or call us

Thank you

A member of the team will respond to you soon.

Spaceman radiation

Radiation exposure from medical scans

Worried about radiation in medical scans? You should see how much astronauts put up with! This animation shows just how little radiation is needed to help experts diagnose and treat medical conditions.

Read full article
CT ambience s-promo

Radiography exposed: The machines that see inside us

High-tech machines like MRI and CT scanners are sometimes intimidating but diagnostic imaging can be an essential step to good health. Adele Trueman, Lead Radiographer at Nuffield Health Manchester Diagnostic Suite, takes a closer look.

Read full article