A quick and common imaging procedure, x-rays help physicians diagnose a range of bone and organ conditions. Learn about the science, the benefits, and the experience.

What is an x-ray?
Capturing pictures of your internal structures, quickly and painlessly, x-rays are one of the most common diagnostic tests available. Mainly used for bone imaging, x-rays can help diagnose fractures, arthritis, osteoporosis, and bone cancer. They’re also used to detect lung infections, heart issues, blocked blood vessels, and foreign objects that may have been ingested.

During the procedure, the machine passes x-ray beams through your body in order to detect structural density—and capture it in the resulting images. Low-density areas, like the air in your lungs, appear black, while high-density structures, like your bones, appear white.

What should I expect from an x-ray procedure?
First, know that x-rays are quick and painless.

When you get to the exam room, we’ll ask you to remove metal accessories or jewelry from parts of the body that are being imaged. You may be asked to wear a gown as well.

To start the exam, your technologist will position you—either lying down, sitting up, or standing—and may ask you to move into various postures during the process. They may also place a lead vest over parts of your body that aren’t being examined. It’s important to be very still while the pictures are being taken for the clearest possible images.

Your technologist is there throughout the process to answer any questions and make you feel as comfortable as possible.

What’s next?
When the technologist is done collecting images—usually no more than 15 minutes—you’ll be free to go.

Our radiologists will assess and interpret the images and send a report to your physician that same day. Your physician’s office will get in touch with you—by phone or through an online patient portal—and communicate your imaging study results to you.