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An X-ray examination uses electromagnetic radiation to make images of your bones, teeth and internal organs. Simply put, an X-ray allows your doctor to take pictures of the inside of your body.

One of the oldest forms of medical imaging, an X-ray is a painless medical test that can help your doctor in diagnosis and treatment — even in emergency situations. It's a fast, easy and safe way for your doctor to view and assess conditions ranging from broken bones to pneumonia to cancer. Many different types of X-rays, such as bone or chest X-rays, exist. The type your doctor uses depends on what part of your body is being examined and for what purpose.

Who is an X-ray for?

X-rays are safe and effective for people of all ages, even young children. X-rays are particularly useful for examining the chest, bones, joints and abdomen. Your doctor may recommend an X-ray for many different reasons. For example, an X-ray exam may be used to:

  • Determine whether a bone is chipped, dislocated or broken (fractured)
  • Evaluate joint injuries and bone infections
  • Diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative conditions, such as arthritis and the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis
  • Find and treat artery blockages
  • Diagnose the cause of persistent coughing or chest pain
  • Check for broken ribs or a punctured lung
  • Evaluate abdominal pain
  • Locate objects that may have been accidentally swallowed by a child
  • Determine whether you have injured a bone or disk in your spine
  • Detect scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine, and other spinal defects
  • Evaluate infection of the sinuses (sinusitis)
  • Locate dental problems such as cavities, abscessed teeth, and other tooth and jaw abnormalities

X-ray exams also play an important role in the detection and diagnosis of cancer. In fact, one use of X-ray in diagnosing cancer is to see whether you have lung cancer or whether cancer from another part of the body has spread (metastasized) to your lungs. Cancer may appear lighter in color on an X-ray than does normal, healthy lung tissue. X-rays may also be used to examine cancers of the intestines, stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys and breasts.

Source: Mayo Clinic

glossary/x-ray_exam.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/16 14:40 (external edit)