What is an X-ray?
X-rays use a special type of radiation to take pictures of bones and some parts inside the body, including the lungs. You will be asked to lie on a bed or sit down between the X-ray tube and a receiving plate which makes the picture.
A plain X-ray is used to look at bones for:
- dislocated joints
- fluid around bones and joints
- bone growths
- bone diseases.
Benefits of X-rays
- X-rays are painless, fast and easy.
- No radiation is left in your body after the X-ray is finished.
Risks of X-rays
Your doctor knows the risks of having an X-ray. Your doctor will consider the risks before recommending you to have an X-ray.
X-rays have possible risks for pregnant women and should only be performed in urgent situations.
There is a very small chance you could develop cancer in the long term from the radiation from an X-ray.
- Bring your referral letter or request form and all X-rays taken within the last 2 years with you.
- Leave the X-rays with the radiology staff as the doctor may need to look at them. The radiology staff will tell you when these are ready to be picked up.
- Leave all jewellery and valuables at home.
Just before the X-ray
- You may be given a gown to wear.
- You may be asked to remove any metal objects.
Tell your doctor
- If you are or may be pregnant.
- If you have difficulty taking a deep breath and holding your breath.
What happens during an X-ray?
X-ray staff will ask you to stand, sit or lie down depending on which part of the body is being X-rayed. Tell the staff if you have difficulty standing or sitting.
X-ray staff may place a protective shield over the parts of your body not being X-rayed, or you may be asked to wear a protective apron.
Once you are ready, the staff will go behind a screen or into the next room to start the X-ray machine. They will ask you to be still, and may ask you to take a deep breath and hold your breath during the X-rays.
When your X-ray is finished you will be asked to wait while the staff check the pictures, as you may need another X-ray.
The X-ray usually takes about 15 minutes including time taken to get ready.
You have the right to refuse an examination and may do so if you wish. A written consent is generally not required for plain X-rays.
When will I get the results?
The amount of time it takes for you to get your results will differ depending on where you get your scans done. The radiology doctor will look at the pictures and write a report. The pictures may be on films or on a CD.
Ask whether you should wait to take the pictures and report with you, or whether they will be sent to your doctor.
Your doctor will need to discuss the report with you. You will need to make an appointment to do this.
After the X-ray
You will be able to go soon after the X-ray is finished and can continue with normal activities.
Costs of X-rays
For an Australian patient in a public hospital in Western Australia:
- public patient – no cost to you unless advised otherwise
- private patient – costs can be claimed through Medicare and your health insurance provider
For a patient in a private hospital or private imaging site in Western Australia – ask your doctor or the staff where you are having your test done.
Where to get help
- See your doctor
- Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.