Radiography (also known as an X-ray) is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. Discovered more than a century ago, X-rays can produce digital diagnostic images of the human body.
X-rays involve exposing a part of the body to a small dose of invisible, electromagnetic radiation to produce an image. They provide a rapid method of evaluating the entire body—especially the joints, bones and chest.
Main Line Health Imaging uses digital radiography (DR), which produces images in less time than to traditional X-rays with more accuracy. This means less chance for error and re-takes. The images can be printed on film or stored electronically.
To schedule an X-ray appointment at Main Line Health, call 484.580.1800. You can also schedule online for the following X-rays:
- Abdomen—kidney, ureter or bladder (KUB)
- Chest—chest, ribs, scapula or sternum
- Extremity—hand, wrist, elbow, arm, shoulder, foot, ankle, knee, leg or hip
- Head—head, orbits, neck or sinus
- Spine—spine, pelvis or sacrum (not scoliosis, lordosis, or kyphosis)
Fluoroscopy: Viewing live X-ray images
Unlike a conventional X-ray, which shows a detailed yet static image, fluoroscopy allows a physician to see a live image of the body's internal organs on a TV monitor in order to observe their size, shape and movement.
Fluoroscopy uses a continuous beam of X-rays to evaluate structures and movement within the body, like blood moving through an artery, lung expansion and contraction or food moving through the digestive tract. It also can be used to help a physician locate a foreign object in the body, position a catheter or needle for a procedure or realign a broken bone.
X-ray frequently asked questions
Get answers to our most asked questions about X-rays.
How should I prepare for an X-ray?
Most X-rays require no special preparation. Once you arrive, you may be asked to change into a gown before your examination. You'll also be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any metal objects that could show up on the images and overlap important findings.
If you're going for an Upper or Lower GI Tract X-ray, you'll be asked to avoid eating and drinking beforehand to avoid interfering with the image quality.
You should always inform your doctor or X-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.
What can I expect during my X-ray?
You might experience some discomfort from lying on the table, which may feel quite hard and cold. Sometimes, to get a clear image of an injury such as a possible fracture, you may be asked to hold still an uncomfortable position for a short time.
If you're receiving a chest X-ray, you may be asked to hold your breath while the imaging is taking place. The radiologist may also need to take additional views from different angles to make a proper diagnosis.
If you're going for an Upper GI Tract, you'll be asked to swallow a barium contrast that may taste chalky. For a Lower GI Tract X-ray, you'll be asked to undergo a barium enema, which may produce some discomfort as the barium fills your colon, including abdominal pressure or minor cramping.
What happens with my results?
Soon after your study an experienced Main Line Health radiologist will analyze the images and send a report to your referring physician. Results will also be available via your Main Line Health MyChart account.
Are X-rays safe?
During a single X-ray exposure, you're exposed to approximately 20 milliroentgens of radiation. To put this into perspective, we're all exposed to approximately 100 milliroentgens of radiation each year from sources, like the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and small traces of radioactive isotopes, like uranium found in soil.
X-ray imaging itself is painless. Special care is taken during X-ray examinations to ensure maximum safety for by paying attention to correct X-ray beam energies. Body parts not being examined are shielded with a lead apron, which helps reduce unnecessary radiation to the abdomen and pelvis.
Modern X-ray systems use tightly controlled X-ray beams with significant filtration to minimize scatter of stray radiation. And today's high-speed X-ray films require less amounts of radiation than ever before in order to produce an optimal image. Fluoroscopy, however, can deliver more radiation than conventional X-rays.