X-Ray : Why And How it is done ? Detailed Overview


An essential tool for identifying and diagnosing some medical diseases is the x-ray. It is a quick and painless process that generates images of your body's interior organs, particularly the skeletal system, or bones. It is a useful and popular approach to understanding a person's skeletal system and the components of the human body.

Radiographers and other specialised medical staff members perform X-rays in the hospital's X-Ray department. During an X-ray procedure, beams pass through your body and are absorbed by it. According to the density of the substance, they are passing through, different amounts are absorbed by various body areas. Bone and metal are both relatively dense substances. When viewed on an X-Ray,  these appear as white. Because it is less thick than bones, the air in the lungs appears to be black. In the body, fat and muscle are denser than air. These appear as a grayish reflection in the photograph.

In certain x-ray exams, the use of a contrast medium (iodine or barium) helps to provide greater detail on images. 

Why is it done?

The key purpose of X-Ray exams is to enable medical professionals to view parts of the body such as the bones. This is very important in diagnosis and supporting patients in their treatment path. 

Teeth and Bones


  • Infections and Fractures: Bone and tooth fractures are typically visible on X-rays in patent cases. This provides Clinicians with information about the diagnosis and comprehension of the patient's medical condition.
  • Bone Cancer: An X-ray is often the only way to identify bone cancer in people and maybe save their lives.
  • Arthritis: X-rays can be used to diagnose arthritis in a person and to help patients receive ongoing care. Access to his data is essential for the development of new treatments.
  • Dental Treatment: An X-ray is frequently used by dentists to examine teeth and look for cavities. X-ray scans can aid in the diagnosis and course of treatment.
  • Osteoporosis: X-ray plays a key role in identifying bone density through measurement. This supports diagnosis and treatment for Osteoporosis patients. 



  • Lung Infections: X-Rays can detect key medical conditions in patients such as pneumonia, lung cancer and tuberculosis. 
  • Blocked blood vessels: Using contrast material can help blood vessels be more visible on X-ray and lead to a crucial diagnosis in the circulatory system of patients.
  • Breast Cancer: Early diagnosis of cancer can result in life-saving measures. Mammography and other X-ray exams are essential for spotting cancerous breast tissue.



  • Items that have been swallowed: Many children can swallow a key or coin putting the child's life at risk. An X-ray can identify the location of the swallowed object and help clinicians to save the patient's life. 
  • Digestive Tract problems: Using a contrast medium, can support the diagnosis of digestive problems in patients. 


How does an X-Ray work?

High-energy radiation passes through the body during an X-ray. The human eye is unable to discern the wavelength of X-rays. The energy from the X-ray as it passes through the body is absorbed by various bodily parts at varying rates. The X-rays are converted into images by a detector. This occurs after the X-rays have crossed the body to the opposite side. It is challenging to pass through denser portions like bones. These show up in the photograph as white. Less dense areas like the heart and lungs are simpler to pass through. In photographs, these show up as darker regions.

Risk Factors Of X-Ray

Radiation exposure raises concerns that X-rays are not safe. Cell mutations can result from radiation exposure. Researchers have discovered that X-rays expose people to very little radiation and have much more advantages than disadvantages. Only a brief period of low-level radiation is exposed to the area of your body being checked. The chances are extremely slim.

If you are pregnant or worried about the risks please speak to your clinician or radiographer. 

Pregnant women are offered a different type of test to minimise the risk of harm to the baby. 

Contrast Medium

In some circumstances, a contrast agent is administered to help visualise soft tissue in the image more clearly. This is administered before the X-ray.

The following negative side effects could result from this:

  • A hot sensation
  • Metal flavour
  •  Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Itching

Please speak to a medical professional if you experience any of these symptoms after being given a contrast medium before a test. 

Preparation before your appointment

If certain body parts need to be X-rayed, you might need to wear a gown. You should dress comfortably and loosely. You might need to fast for a few hours before the X-ray if a contrast agent is being utilized. Please see your doctor for guidance.

For the most part, you don't need to fast before getting an X-ray.

Avoid wearing jewelry and clothing with zippers since they might obstruct the X-ray procedure.

Please let the staff know if you are pregnant before any X-rays. If you are pregnant, X-rays are not advised.

What you can expect 

Either you will lie down or you will stand throughout the X-ray. To ensure that the body component is in the proper place, please do this. The X-ray will take less than a second, and the machine will be placed to X-ray the required body part. You won't experience anything. In order to prevent blurry images, you must be as still as you can. From behind a screen, the radiographer will control the device.

The entire process takes only a few minutes, but you must remain still to guarantee a clear image. Contrast medium X-ray procedures could take a little longer.

Results of X-Ray and what happens next?

You can continue with normal activities after an X-ray. There are no side effects with standard X-rays. There may be some temporary side effects from contrast agents. Drink plenty of water to help your body get rid of it. If you have any of the following systems at the injection site, please contact a medical professional:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness

X-ray images are examined by a doctor called a radiologist before the patient is told of the results. They may discuss the results with you or pass them on to the doctor who referred you for an X-ray. The doctor will then report the results to you. 

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Page last reviewed: Mar 22, 2023

Next review due: Mar 22, 2025

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