An X-ray examination uses electromagnetic radiation to make images of your bones, teeth and internal organs. Simply put, an X-ray allows your doctor to take pictures of the inside of your body.
One of the oldest forms of medical imaging, X-ray is a painless medical test that can help your doctor in diagnosis and treatment — even in emergency situations. It’s a fast, easy and safe way for your doctor to view and assess conditions ranging from broken bones to pneumonia to cancer. Many different types of X-rays, such as bone or chest X-rays, exist. The type your doctor uses depends on what part of your body is being examined and for what purpose.
This inverted X-ray shows a stress fracture in the lower leg bone.
- Determine whether a bone is chipped, dislocated or broken (fractured)
- Evaluate joint injuries and bone infections
- Diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative conditions, such as Check for broken ribs or a punctured lung arthritis and the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis
- Screen for lung and heart diseases
- Find and treat artery blockages
- Diagnose the cause of persistent coughing or chest pain
- Check for broken ribs or a punctured lung
X-ray exams also play an important role in the detection and diagnosis of cancer. In fact, one use of X-ray in diagnosing cancer is to see whether you have lung cancer or whether cancer from another part of the body has spread (metastasized) to the lungs. Cancer may appear lighter in color on X-ray films than does normal, healthy lung tissue. X-rays may also be used to examine cancers of the intestines, stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys and breasts.