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Using radiation to see inside the body

What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a picture taken of the inside of your body.

How does an X-ray work?

An X-ray works by using a special kind of light called radiation. X-rays can show bones, organs and other parts to help your healthcare providers figure out what might be causing problems and how to help you feel better.

Are X-rays safe?

The amount of radiation used in an X-ray is small, and the benefits of getting an X-ray usually outweigh the risks. However, healthcare providers try to limit the number of X-rays you get, especially if you're young, to keep your exposure to radiation as low as possible.

What are the common uses of X-rays?

X-rays can be used to:

  • Check for broken bones, fractures or dislocations
  • Detect lung problems like pneumonia or tuberculosis
  • Evaluate the size and position of organs
  • Diagnose issues like arthritis or tumors
  • Assist in guiding medical procedures, such as placing medical devices
  • Monitor the progression of certain conditions or treatments
  • Examine the chest for heart and lung conditions
  • Assess the skeletal system for abnormalities
  • Screen for certain types of cancers

How should I prepare?

Tell your health care team if you are pregnant, may be pregnant or if you have an IUD inserted. You will need to remove all jewelry, as metal can cause unclear images. You may need to wear a hospital gown.

What can I expect during my X-ray exam?

When it is time for your exam, the X-ray technologist will help you position your body to take clear and specific images. You may need to sit, lie or stand in several different positions to acquire the necessary images. You shouldn’t feel anything during an X-ray, though some of the positions may be a little uncomfortable after holding them for a duration of time. Your technologist will make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

Referral required for this service. If you need one, talk to your primary care provider.

To establish care with a St. Luke’s primary care provider, call 218.249.4000 or find a clinic near you.

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