An x-ray image, or radiograph, is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through a body part and is recorded on film, screen, video or computer to produce a black-and-white anatomical image. Areas that are denser, such as bone, appear white on the x-ray film. Areas that less dense, such as the lungs or other areas filled with air appear black. Soft tissue, vessels and organs appear as various shades of gray on an x-ray image, depending upon their composition and density.
X-ray examinations provide valuable information about patient health and play an important role in helping doctors make an accurate diagnosis. In general radiography, a small amount of radiation (x-rays) passes through a body part, exposing a special receptor on the other side and producing a black-and-white image. X-rays may be used to detect bone fractures, demonstrate disease processes, find foreign objects in the body, and demonstrate the relationships between bone and soft tissue. One of the most common types of x-ray exam is chest radiography.
Fluoroscopy is an x-ray procedure in which x-rays are transmitted through the body onto a fluorescent screen or monitor. It is beneficial in that function of joints or organ systems can be observed (e.g., the movement of material through the esophagus, stomach, and intestines). Most commonly performed exams include studies of the gastrointestinal tract; urinary system (bladder) and joints.
View our Commonly Ordered Diagnostic X-ray/Fluoro Procedures and Their Indications.
Some procedures involve the administration of a contrast agent either orally(barium or water soluble equivalent), intravenously or directly in a particular part of the anatomy (like a shoulder for an arthrogram) to help show more detail about an organ or system. The contrast material, sometimes called dye, is formulated to absorb more x-rays than some less dense areas of the human body. By administering a contrast, that less dense anatomy is better visualized in the x-ray or fluoroscopic image.
If you are a nursing mother and have concerns about taking oral or intravenous contrast please contact your physician on this matter.
Certain organs are "radiosensitive," which means they are more sensitive to radiation exposure than other parts of the body. Those organs, including the thyroid gland and the male and female reproductive organs, are shielded when they are in the path of the x-ray beam if it does not obstruct the anatomy of interest. Because a developing fetus also is radiosensitive, pregnant women should seek a physician's advice before undergoing an x-rays.
Registered radiologic technologists, credentialed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) are educated in radiation safety and protection using proper techniques and shielding to minimize dose and exposure to our patients.
What to expect:
If a patient has an order from a doctor for an outpatient x-ray, he/she does not need to schedule this procedure. It is a walk in service done at the hospital at any time. Depending upon the time of day, the patient my need to register in a different area of the hospital. Please have your photo ID and medical insurance card available at the time of registration. If you have been scheduled for an exam, have been pre-registered over the telephone or have visited our facility recently, you may go directly to Imaging Services Reception. You will be asked for at least one form of photo identification and your medical insurance card.
Your full name and date of birth will be checked each member of the Imaging Department Staff you encounter during your visit. This is important to ensure patient safety, as well as verify that the correct patient is having the correct procedure.
At the end of your visit, you will be offered a contact card that will document the date, type of exam you had and which technologist performed that exam. On the back of the card, are phone numbers for all services offered in the Wentworth-Douglass Imaging Department. The area you visited will be highlighted, should you want to call and speak to your technologist, or one if his/her colleages with any follow-up questions. The technologists do not provide results to patients, that is the responsibility of your ordering physician. Generally the results of your exam(s) are available to your ordering physician within 2 business days.
Common Diagnostic X-ray Procedures (please click on any of the links below to learn more about what to expect for specific procedures):
Barium Enema (BE)
Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)
Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
Myelogram (Cervical or Lumbar)
Small Bowel Follow-through (SBFT)
Upper Gastrointestinal Series (UGI)
Summary of Radiology Exam Preparations