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X-Ray: About This Test

What is it?

An X-ray is a picture of the inside of your body. Depending on the part of your body to be X-rayed, the X-ray may show bones, organs, foreign objects, or pockets of air or fluid. Any part of your body can be X-rayed, including your head, chest, belly, arms, and legs.

Why is this test done?

Doctors use X-rays to help find out what's wrong or whether there is a problem, what is causing pain, or where a foreign object may be located in your body.

X-rays can also help check the position of a tube or device you've had put in your body. Examples may include a gastrostomy tube, a port, or a stent.

How do you prepare for the test?

  • In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How is the test done?

  • You will need to hold very still while the X-ray is taken. A padded brace, foam pads, a headband, or sandbags may be used to hold your body in place while the pictures are taken, depending on what part of your body is being X-rayed.
  • More than one X-ray view may be taken.

How long does the test take?

  • The test will take about 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the part of your body being X-rayed. You might be asked to stay longer if a picture needs to be retaken.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away. It depends on the reason for the test.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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