X-ray is the oldest and most frequently used form of imaging to see inside the human body.
X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves. They are focused into a beam that can pass through objects, including the human body. When an xray is done, the rays pass through the body and strike a detector, which forms an image of the inside of the body.
The x-rays are absorbed by different body tissues in varying degrees. Dense tissue, like bone, absorbs most the x-rays and consequently appears white on the x-ray image. Less dense tissue absorbs less x-rays, allowing more rays to pass through and strike the detector. These tissues show on the image in various shades of gray. X-rays that pass through air, in the lungs and colon for example, aren’t absorbed at all. These spaces appear black on the x-ray image.
X-rays have many uses. They are the fastest way for a doctor to assess bone fractures. They are also commonly used to examine the breasts (mammography), gastrointestinal tract, chest, abdomen, spine and skull.
Fluoroscopy – Continuous X-rays
Fluoroscopy uses x-rays to obtain real-time, continuous images rather than a single static image. A fluoroscope is the device that takes the images and transmits them to a monitor for immediate viewing by a radiologist or technologist.
Fluoroscopy is not an exam itself but is a technique that is used in many exams and procedures. It allows the radiologist to see the real-time movement of instruments when performing procedures such as pain management injections, hysterosalpingograms, angiography, and interventional procedures. For certain exams, this imaging technique allows the radiologist to assess the functioning of an organ in addition to its anatomy. Many procedures that use fluoroscopy require the use of a contrast material to enhance the images.
Risks Involved in an X-ray
There is the risk of radiation exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.
Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation
Since x-rays are often needed in emergency situations, appointments are not needed. You may receive an x-ray on a walk-in basis at any of our locations that offer x-ray. If you have any questions about x-ray exams, please call 720-493-3700.
X-rays are usually covered by insurance when ordered by a physician. Check with your insurance company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.
Conditions to Let Us Know About
In advance of your exam, let your scheduler or technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you (or your child):
- Currently pregnant
You do not need to do anything in particular to prepare for most x-ray exams.
What to Expect
During the Exam
X-rays vary depending on the area of the body being imaged. However, here is generally what will happen:
- You will remove all metal and metallic objects, such as eyeglasses, belts, hair accessories and jewelry
- You may also need to change into a gown depending on the body part being x-rayed. You may use a secure locker for your personal items during your exam.
- The technologist will answer any questions you have.
- The technologist will help position you on the x-ray table. You must remain as still as possible. You may be covered with a lead apron to avoid unnecessarily exposing other body parts to radiation.
- Usually multiple x-rays from varying angles are required to fully show the body part. The technologist will reposition you for each x-ray.
- If you changed into a gown, you will change back into your clothes.
X-rays are painless, but you may experience some discomfort from lying on the cold, hard table or from maintaining awkward positions so clear images can be taken.
X-rays usually take about 15 minutes.
After the Exam
You can return to your normal activities immediately after your xray.
A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of x-rays will analyze the data and results from your exam. If the patient is a child, the exam data will be analyzed by a radiologist experienced in the interpretation of pediatric x-rays. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.
During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.