Why do I need an X-ray?

Why do I need an X-ray?

Why do I need an X-ray? 

Typically, X-rays are done in order to assess or examine an area causing discomfort or pain or to ascertain whether a bone is broken after an accident or trauma, they also monitor how well a treatment is working, the body is healing and to track the progression of a disease that has been previously diagnosed, such as osteoporosis (a condition where the bones become weak and fragile).  

X-rays are used to examine different parts of the body, these can include:  

Teeth and bones 

  • Fractures and infections in the bones– these show up clearly in X-rays.  
  • Arthritis affecting the joints – X-rays help your doctor to detect, monitor and track progression of the conditions, noting if it is getting better or worse through comparing years of X-rays.  
  • Osteoporosis this is detected and monitored through measuring bone density through special types of X-ray.  
  • Dental decay –involves using X-rays to check for cavities in the teeth.   
  • Bone cancer X-rays reveal bone tumours.  


  • Digestive tract issues –are detected using a barium enema or liquid, which is a swallow test that gives a visual representation of the digestive tract through the use of an X-ray. The liquid is swallowed or delivered in an enema (injecting the liquid into the rectum) and passed through the body to allow areas with an issue to be detected.  
  • Items swallowed – if something has been swallowed by accident that the body cannot digest, which occurs in cases with children regularly, an X-ray can detect the item and its position in the digestive tract. 


  • Lung conditions – X-rays can detect evidence of tuberculosis, pneumonia and lung cancer 
  • Breast cancer  using a mammogram, which is a special type of X-ray test that is used to assess the tissue of the breast and detect any abnormalities such as lumps that could possibly be cancerous.    
  • Enlarged heart  X-rays are able to clearly detect any signs of congestive heart failure.   
  • Blocked blood vessels – these are detected through injecting a material that is able to show up clearly on an X-ray intravenously (into your vein), known as a contrast material. It normally contains iodine, which highlights specific areas of the circulatory system to clearly appear on the X-ray.  If you are allergic to iodine it is important to tell your doctor and radiographer (the person performing the X-ray) so that an alternative contrast can be used.
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