By Mayo Clinic Staff

An X-ray is a quick, painless test that produces images of the structures inside your body — particularly your bones.

X-ray beams pass through your body, and they are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material they pass through. Dense materials, such as bone and metal, show up as white on X-rays. The air in your lungs shows up as black. Fat and muscle appear as shades of gray.

For some types of X-ray tests, a contrast medium — such as iodine or barium — is introduced into your body to provide greater detail on the images.

March 26, 2015