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X-rays may be performed at doctors' offices, dentists' offices, emergency rooms and hospitals — wherever an X-ray machine is available. The machine produces a tiny burst of radiation, at a safe level, that passes through your body and records an image on a specialized plate. You can't feel the X-ray passing through you.
A technologist positions your body to obtain the necessary views. He or she may use pillows or sandbags to help you hold the proper position. During the X-ray exposure, you remain still and hold your breath to avoid moving, which can cause the image to blur.
An X-ray procedure may take only a few minutes for a bone X-ray, or more than an hour for more-involved procedures, such as those using a contrast medium.
If a young child is having an X-ray, restraints or other immobilization techniques may be used to help keep him or her still. These will not harm your child and will prevent the need for a repeat procedure, which may be necessary if the child moves during the X-ray exposure. You may be allowed to remain with your child during the test. If you remain in the room during the X-ray exposure, you're typically asked to wear a lead apron to shield you from unnecessary exposure.
After an X-ray, you generally can resume normal activities. Routine X-rays usually have no side effects. However, if you receive an injection of contrast medium before your X-rays, call your doctor if you experience pain, swelling or redness at the injection site. Ask your doctor about other signs and symptoms to watch for pertaining to your specific X-ray procedure.
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