Information for Patients requiring an X-Ray

This information leaflet is to help you prepare for your x-ray examination and understand what will happen when you attend the Radiology department.   

What is an x-ray?

An x-ray is a quick and painless procedure commonly used to produce images of the inside of the body. X-rays can be used to examine most areas of the body. They are mainly used to look at bones and joints, although they are sometimes used to look closely at soft tissue, such as internal organs.

Do I need to prepare for an x-ray?

You don’t usually need to do anything special to prepare for an x-ray. You can eat and drink as normal beforehand and continue to take your usual medications. It’s a good idea to wear loose and comfortable clothing as you may be able to remove your clothing from the area being examined. However, it is often the case that clothing will need to be completely removed from the area of interest due to the high sensitivity of modern x-ray equipment, in which case you will be given a patient gown to change in to. Try to avoid wearing jewellery and clothing containing metal, such as zips, as these will need to be removed. 

Are there any risks?

The part of your body being x-rayed will only be exposed to a small amount of radiation for a fraction of a second. Generally the amount of radiation that you are exposed to will be the equivalent of between a few days and a few years’ worth of natural radiation from the environment. Being exposed to x-rays does carry a risk of causing cancer many years or decades later, but this risk is thought to be very small. The benefits and risks of having an x-ray will be weighed up before it is recommended.

What should I do if I am or may be pregnant?

For all x-rays you should let the hospital know if you are pregnant or if there is a chance that you might be pregnant. X-rays aren’t usually recommended for pregnant women unless it is an emergency. You may be asked information regarding your menstrual cycle and be offered a pregnancy test if there is a possibility that you are pregnant. 

What will happen when I attend for my x-ray?

When you attend the Radiology department you will be booked in and be invited to change into a patient gown if required. When you are called into the x-ray room you will be asked to provide the radiographer with your full name, date of birth and address, this is to ensure that you are the correct patient. You will usually be asked to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface so that the part of your body being examined can be positioned in the correct place. The x-ray machine will be carefully aimed at the correct part of your body and then the radiographer will step behind a glass panel to operate the machine. The x-ray will last for less than a second and you will need to keep very still for this time so that the image produced isn’t blurry. This procedure should not be painful. More than one x-ray in different positions may be required but the whole examination is unlikely to take more than five minutes.

What will happen after my x-ray?

After your x-ray you will be able to carry on your normal daily activities and will feel no side effects. The x-ray will need to be reviewed and reported on by a Radiologist, a specialist doctor, or a Reporting Radiographer and this will not happen at the time of your appointment. If you are attending from a clinic then you may go back to see your referring doctor after the examination to discuss the finding of the x-ray. If you have been referred for the x-ray examination by your GP or another healthcare provider then a written report on the x-ray images will be sent to them within 7 – 10 days.  

 Data Protection

Any personal information is kept confidential.  There may be occasions where your information needs to be shared with other care professionals to ensure you receive the best care possible.

In order to assist us to improve the services available, your information may be used for clinical audit, research, teaching and anonymised for National NHS Reviews and Statistics.  

Further information is available via Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust or by contacting the Data Protection Officer by telephone on 0191 445 8418 or by email ghnt.ig.team@nhs.net.

This leaflet can be made available in other languages and formats upon request.