An X-ray is an imaging test that uses radiation to create a picture of a body part. It is useful for looking at many conditions, such as:
- head injuries
- memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease
- sleep disorders
- brain surgery or inflammation
- brain death in coma patients
- tooth damage or disease
The test is usually done at a hospital, at a doctor or dentist's office, or at a clinic by a trained health care professional.
Risks and precautions
An X-ray is usually a straightforward and safe procedure. Although X-rays use radiation to generate an image, the amount used is very small and the risk of developing cancer or other defects is low.
Tell your doctor if you are or may be pregnant before having an X-ray because fetuses may be more sensitive to radiation exposure. Your doctor may recommend another test (such as an ultrasound) for you.
Before the test
No special preparation is necessary for an X-ray test. You may be asked to remove jewelry, glasses, or other metal objects that might interfere with the test.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before the test. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications or have certain medical conditions.