X-rays are waves of electromagnetic energy. They behave in much the same way as light rays, but at much shorter wavelengths. When directed at a target, X-rays can often pass through the substance uninterrupted, especially when it is of low density.
Higher density targets (like the human body) will reflect or absorb the X-rays. They do this because there is less space between the atoms for the short waves to pass through.
Diagnostic imaging techniques help narrow the causes of an injury or illness and ensure that the diagnosis is accurate. These techniques include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
These imaging tools let your doctor see inside your body to get a picture of your bones, organs, muscles, tendons, nerves, and cartilage. Your doctor uses these tools to determine if there are any abnormalities.
X-rays (radiographs) are the most common and widely available diagnostic imaging technique. Even if you also need more sophisticated tests, you will probably get an X-ray first.
The test is performed in the health care provider’s office, at radiology offices, or in a hospital radiology department or by an X-ray technician.
It is important to inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. Chest X-rays are generally avoided during the first six months of pregnancy. You must wear a hospital gown and remove all jewelry. There will be no discomfort during the X-Ray test; however, the film plate may feel cold.
There is very little risk with having one X-ray test. However, with repeated tests there is a risk that the X-rays may damage some cells in the body, possibly leading to cancer in the future. The dose of X-ray radiation is always kept to the minimum needed to get a good picture of the particular body part being checked.
Also, radiographers who take the X-ray pictures always wear lead aprons or go behind a protective screen when the X-rays are fired to avoid repeated exposure to X-rays.
Pregnant women, if possible, should not have X-rays , as there is a small risk that X-rays may cause an abnormality to the unborn child. This is why women are asked before having an X-ray if they are, or might be, pregnant.