How to Prepare for an X-Ray

When your physician recommends an x-ray for diagnostic purposes, you should prepare for the procedure. The type of test you will have will determine how you prepare for it. These examinations do not involve physical pain or discomfort, and they generally take only a short time to complete.

Common Conditions

You may need to have an x-ray for a variety of conditions. This test can diagnose fractures, sprains, and infections. Other conditions that may be diagnosed include tumors, cancer, blocked blood vessels, digestive issues, lung conditions, arthritis, swallowed objects, and tooth decay. A physician will often use this diagnostic procedure to determine the source of pain or discomfort you may be feeling.

Ask for Instructions

Before doing anything to prepare for the exam, ask your physician for specific instructions that pertain to the procedure you will have. You may have specific things to do to prepare, or you may not need to do anything at all. Take notes or ask for printed instructions if you think you may forget details.

Removing Articles

You may need to remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown, depending on the part of your body needing examination. It may also be necessary to take off your eyeglasses and metal objects such as jewelry, watch, and hair accessories. Metal objects may interfere with the x-ray.

Special Preparations

A specific type of exam involves administering a contrast medium to you prior to the procedure. The contrast medium may be iodine or barium. Sometimes you may need to drink the contrast medium. Your physician may also order an injection or an enema to administer the medium. The benefit of a contrast medium is the contrast that occurs within your body.

Some people experience side effects from the contrast medium. You may experience issue such as itching, hives, nausea, dizziness, and a metallic taste in your mouth. In rare cases, a patient may even experience anaphylactic shock, which involves low blood pressure and cardiac arrest.

You may also need to fast for a specific period of time if you are having an image taken of your intestines. Fasting enables you to clear your intestines, which may be necessary prior to the test.

The Procedure

You may need to visit a special department of your hospital or clinic to receive the examination. A radiologist will conduct the test, explaining the procedure and helping to position you for the x-ray. Positioning may require that you lie on an exam table, sit in a chair, or stand in a specific position in front of the equipment. You will need to remain very still, and sometimes the radiologist will instruct you to hold your breath. Follow instructions carefully during the test. The radiologist will continue the exam until satisfactory images have been taken.


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