An x-ray image, or radiograph, is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through a body part and is recorded on film, screen, video or computer to produce a black-and-white anatomical image. Areas that are denser, such as bone, appear white on the x-ray film. Areas that less dense, such as the lungs or other areas filled with air appear black. Soft tissue, vessels and organs appear as various shades of gray on an x-ray image, depending upon their composition and density.
X-ray examinations provide valuable information about patient health and play an important role in helping doctors make an accurate diagnosis. In general radiography, a small amount of radiation (x-rays) passes through a body part, exposing a special receptor on the other side and producing a black-and-white image. X-rays may be used to detect bone fractures, demonstrate disease processes, find foreign objects in the body, and demonstrate the relationships between bone and soft tissue. One of the most common types of x-ray exam is chest radiography.
Fluoroscopy is an x-ray procedure in which x-rays are transmitted through the body onto a fluorescent screen or monitor. It is beneficial in that function of joints or organ systems can be observed (e.g., the movement of material through the esophagus, stomach, and intestines). Most commonly performed exams include studies of the gastrointestinal tract; urinary system (bladder) and joints.
Some procedures involve the administration of a contrast agent either orally (barium or water soluble equivalent), or directly in a particular part of the anatomy (like a shoulder for an arthrogram) to help show more detail about an organ or system. The contrast material, sometimes called dye, is formulated to absorb more x-rays than some less dense areas of the human body. By administering a contrast, that less dense anatomy is better visualized in the x-ray or fluoroscopic image.
If you are a nursing mother and have concerns about taking oral contrast, please contact your physician.
Appointments are not necessary if you have an order from a doctor for an outpatient x-ray. Please have your photo ID and medical insurance card available at the time of registration. If you have been scheduled for an exam, have been pre-registered over the telephone or have visited our facility recently, you may go directly to Imaging Services Reception. You will be asked for at least one form of photo identification and your medical insurance card.
Your full name and date of birth will be checked each member of the Imaging Department Staff you encounter during your visit. This is important to ensure patient safety and that the correct patient is having the correct procedure.
At the end of your visit, you will be offered a contact card that will document the date, type of exam you had and which technologist performed that exam. On the back of the card, are phone numbers for all services offered in the Wentworth-Douglass Imaging Department. The area you visited will be highlighted, should you want to call with any follow-up questions. The technologists do not provide results to patients, that is the responsibility of your ordering physician.
The Radiology Exam Preparation Summary (PDF) provides additional details on exam preparation and duration for some common diagnostic X-ray procedures, including:
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