Diagnostic X-Ray


Diagnostic x-rays are one of the most common and widely available diagnostic tools. In many cases, your doctor will order an x-ray procedure first before requesting any advanced testing, such as CT, MRI or nuclear medicine test.

Diagnostic x-rays are most frequently used to:

  • Check for broken bones.
  • Look for pneumonia in the lungs.
  • Evaluate your stomach and intestines. You will drink a fluid called barium and then the technologist will take a series of pictures as the fluid moves through your body.
  • Identify breast cancer through is a very sensitive form of x-ray called mammography.

What Happens During an X-Ray?

Diagnostic x-ray involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. A Mercy technologist will position the body part being imaged between the x-ray machine and a special detector. You will be asked to hold still while the image is taken, and you may be asked to hold your breath for a very short time. The technologist may repeat this process several times to take additional images from different angles.

With today’s modern x-ray equipment, the level of radiation used in diagnostic x-ray exams is so minimal that medical experts have concluded that lead shielding has no added benefit for patient safety.

If you are pregnant, please let your technologist know so that precautions can be taken whenever possible to protect the unborn fetus. If there are any doubts, you may be asked to take a pregnancy test first to determine whether you are pregnant or not.

Following the procedure, a Mercy radiologist will review the images and send a report to your doctor usually within a few hours. Occasionally you may be asked to come back for additional images. The technologist or radiologist can explain why additional images are needed.

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