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X-ray scan

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 1 min read

An X-ray is a type of scan that uses very small amounts of radiation to create a 2D black and white image of the inside of your body. X-rays send small amounts of radiation energy through the body and detect the amount that has passed through to the other side. Different tissues block or absorb different amounts of the X-rays depending on how dense they are. The more dense the matter, the more radiation it will block and the lighter it will appear. For example, bone shows up as white as it blocks a large amount of the radiation, whereas, air in the lungs allows more to pass through and shows up as much darker.

More information

X-rays are pain-free and are very quick to perform, taking on average less than 5 minutes. Depending on the area being scanned, you will be either stood up or laid on a special bed and you will be asked to remove anything metal beforehand as this can block some of the X-rays and show up as bright white. X-rays are useful for looking at bones and certain lung, bowel, and heart conditions. Having an X-ray does expose you to a very small amount of radiation however because it is such as small amount for a very short amount of time, the risk of future complications from this is minimal. X-rays are usually avoided in pregnancy although they may be used in emergencies.

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