Radiography refers to diagnostic exams that use x-rays to produce images of the human body. The most basic of the radiography exams are the diagnostic x-ray procedures of the chest, spine, and extremities.

Although common, the x-ray has been called one of the most significant advances in all of medical history and is used in most every field of medicine to diagnose a variety of conditions.

X-rays are a type of radiant energy, similar to light or radio waves. They are capable of penetrating the body, making it possible to capture pictures of internal structures.

Patient Preparation

Before your examination, a radiographer will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have.

A radiographer, also known as a radiologic technologist is a skilled medical professional who has received specialized education in the areas of radiation protection, patient care, radiation exposure, radiographic positioning and radiographic procedures.

The radiographer will determine the amount of radiation necessary to produce a diagnostically useful image. 

The radiographer may ask you to put on a hospital gown and remove any jewelry underneath it. This gown has no metal snaps on it because metal can interfere with the accuracy of the image.

If you are a woman of childbearing age, the radiographer will ask if there is any possibility you are pregnant. It is important that you tell the radiographer the date of your last menstrual period and whether there is a chance that you may be pregnant.

During the examination

You may be asked to lie down on the x-ray table, although in some cases the radiograph will be taken while you are standing. To ensure that you are properly positioned on the table, the radiographer will look for anatomical landmarks.

He or she will touch the sight of anatomy being imaged to position you correctly. You may be asked to hold your breath while the exposure is made. It is important note to move during the exposure because any movement will blur the image.

A lead-equivalent rubberized shield might be used to cover your reproductive organs unless its use would interfere with the examination. Sometimes the area that needs to be examined would be hidden if a shield were used.

Once the examination is complete, the radiographer will process your x-ray images, determine whether they are technically acceptable, and assess whether additional films are needed. The films then will be given to a radiologist, a physician who specializes in the diagnostic interpretation of medical images.