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Pediatric X-Ray: About Your Child's Test

What is it?

An X-ray is a picture of the inside of your child's body. Depending on the part of his or her body to be X-rayed, it may show bones, organs, foreign objects, or pockets of air or fluid. Any part of the body can be X-rayed, including the 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 child's body.

X-rays can also help check the position of a tube or device that has been put in your child's body. Examples may include a gastrostomy tube or a port.

How do you prepare for the test?

  • Reassure your child that the X-ray doesn't hurt and that it will be over quickly.
  • Tell your child what to expect. The X-ray room will have unfamiliar devices in it, and it may be cold. Reassure your child that you will be close by at all times.
  • Many children are curious about what their "insides" look like. Others find the test scary. You can help take the mystery out of the test by asking your doctor or X-ray technologist if your child can look at the X-ray when it's done.

How is the test done?

  • Your child 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 child's body in place, depending on what part of the 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 child's body being X-rayed. You might be asked to stay longer if a picture needs to be retaken.

What happens after the test?

  • Your child will probably be able to go home right away. It depends on the reason for the test.
  • Your child can go back to his or her usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's 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 your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines your child takes. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Where can you learn more?

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