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An x-ray (radiograph) is a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. An x-ray image is produced when a small amount of ionizing radiation passes through the body. The ability of x-rays to penetrate tissues and bones varies according to the tissue's composition and mass. Bone, which contains calcium, does not let much radiation through and results in white images on the x-ray film. The lungs, which are filled with air, allow nearly all x-rays to strike the film resulting in a black film image. Chest x-rays are the most common radiologic exam.
Preparing for an X-Ray
General Radiology (X-ray) is offered on a walk-in basis, with no appointment necessary. A written order from your doctor is required. Generally, for plain x-rays, there is no preparation. If you are pregnant or nursing, you must notify your technologist.
Depending on the area of your body to be x-rayed, you may need to change into a gown upon arrival. When you have an x-ray, it usually requires at least two views of the body part to be taken. Occasionally, multiple views are taken. Therefore, the process can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to complete.
Fluoroscopy is a real-time form of x-ray, in which organs can be seen over many seconds (rather than in the static image called an x-ray). Fluoroscopy examines the tissues and deep structures of the body by x-ray, using the fluoroscope and a contrast material. Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion.
- Myelogram is an imaging examination that shows the passage of contrast material in the space around the spinal cord (the subarachnoid space). When the contrast material is injected into the subarachnoid space, the radiologist is able to view and evaluate the status of the spinal cord, nerve roots, and intervertebral disks. By this means, myelography provides a very detailed picture (myelogram) of the spinal cord and spinal column. The radiologist views the passage of contrast material as it is flowing using fluoroscopy but also takes permanent static (unmoving) pictures, called x-rays or radiographs, of the contrast material around the spinal cord and nerve roots in order to document abnormalities. In most cases, the myelogram is followed by a computed tomography (CT) scan to better define abnormalities.
- Arthrogram is the x-ray examination of a joint that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material containing iodine. When contrast is injected into the joint space, it coats the inner lining of the joint structures and appears bright white on an arthrogram, allowing the radiologist to assess the anatomy and function of the joint.
- Upper GI Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography, also called an upper GI, is an x-ray examination of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (also known as the duodenum) that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material called barium. When the gastrointestinal tract is coated with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach and the duodenum.
- Barium Swallow: An x-ray examination that evaluates only the pharynx and esophagus.
- Air-contrast or Double-contrast Upper GI: In addition to drinking barium, some patients are also given change effervescent crystals to further improve the images. This procedure is called an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI.
- Lower GI or Barium Enema ("BE") Lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract radiography, also called a lower GI, is an x-ray examination of the large intestine, also known as the colon. This includes the right or ascending colon, the transverse colon, the left or descending colon and the rectum. The appendix and a portion of the small intestine may also be included. When the lower gastrointestinal tract is filled with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the rectum, colon and part of the lower small intestine.
Preparing for X-ray
Fluoroscopic examinations require an appointment, as well as a written order from your doctor. If you are pregnant or nursing you must notify your technologist. Depending on the area of your body to be x-rayed, you may need to change into a gown upon arrival. In addition, you will be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, and any other objects that could obscure the images. Many fluoroscopic procedures require specific preparation prior to the procedure. Scheduling personnel will provide you with special diet and procedure preparations when making the appointment.
For more information about any of these procedures, including how to prepare and what to expect, visit www.radiologyinfo.com >>