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The radiation exposure from one chest X-ray examination is equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure the average American experiences from natural surroundings in 10 days.
*Source: American College of Radiology and Radiology Society of North America

Understanding Digital X-ray

An X-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical imaging test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. An X-ray exposes a specific part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.

Digital X-ray is an advanced form of X-ray imaging, where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. With digital technology, less time and radiation is required to produce images. The advances also allow radiologists and other physicians to review the images immediately and to digitally transfer or enhance them.

X-rays are an especially versatile form of medical imaging and can be used to diagnose conditions and infections in nearly every part of the body. They are used to examine broken bones, fluid build-up in the lungs, infections, cancers, abnormal growths and more.

Different parts of the body absorb X-rays in varying degrees. Dense bone absorbs much of the radiation. Soft tissue, such as muscle, fat and organs, allow more of X-rays to pass through them. Air does not block X-rays at all. As a result, bones appear white on an X-ray, soft tissue shows up in shades of gray and air appears black. Radiologists have specialized training to interpret the final images for any abnormality.

Because X-rays involve exposure to radiation, concerns arise about the risks, especially if you have X-rays regularly. WellStar technologists and radiologists always use the smallest possible dose of radiation necessary and provide protective lead aprons when multiple X-rays are necessary.

WellStar Resources and Support

WellStar uses state-of-the-art equipment and innovative digital systems integrated into all of its X-ray technologies to ensure quality images at minimum dose levels. With improved equipment positioning and examination accuracy, we can ensure maximum patient comfort and reduced need to reposition patients or take repeat images.

Digital X-ray is available at all WellStar hospitals and most imaging centers.

Before the Procedure

For general X-ray examinations, you will not need an appointment or initial preparation before the examination. You may be required to remove clothing and any jewelry or other objects from the area of your body to be examined. You should inform your X-ray technologist, the radiologist, or another WellStar physician if you believe you might be pregnant.

During the Procedure

For an X-ray, a specially trained technologist will position your body or body part between the X-ray camera and the X-ray digital recorder. When necessary, sandbags, pillows or other positioning devices will be used to help you maintain the proper position. A protective lead apron may be used to protect the body parts not under examination from receiving any unnecessary radiation.

You must remain still throughout the procedure and may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the X-ray is taken to prevent image blurring. The technologist will walk into another room or behind a wall to activate the X-ray device.

You may be repositioned for additional images or for images of an unaffected limb for comparison purposes.

When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the technologist or radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained.

Most X-ray examinations take about five or 10 minutes.

After the Procedure

Once you have completed a digital X-ray, you may resume your normal, everyday activities.