X-rays of the Extremities
What Is An X-Ray?
An x-ray is a diagnostic test that produces interior images of the body using invisible electromagnetic energy beams. X-ray beams penetrate and are absorbed by the internal tissues, bones, and organs of the body to produce a film or digital image. These images are taken in order to determine if there is a fracture or break to the bone, a lung condition, digestive problems, arthritis, heart failure, tumors, or other conditions.
This painless procedure produces an image based on tissue density. Dense materials, including bones or metal, will appear white on the x-ray. Soft tissue, such as the lungs, appear as black and fat and muscle appear in a shade of grey. Additionally, iodine or barium is sometimes used as a contrast medium. This will highlight certain areas of the body during the x-ray for improved images.
Why Do I Need an X-Ray?
There are a variety of reasons our staff at Summit Healthcare may recommend an x-ray. X-rays of the extremities, such as the arm, leg, hand, foot, ankle, shoulder, knee, hip or hand, are commonly performed to assess injuries or other conditions of the bones such as:
- Bone spurs
- Congenital abnormalities
- Bone growth and development in children
What Does an X-Ray Evaluate?
Additionally, x-rays of joints may be done to evaluate damage to soft tissues, such as cartilage, muscle, tendons, or ligaments, and to assess for the presence of fluid in the joint. X-rays can also identify other abnormalities of the joint such as bone spurs, narrowing of the joint, and changes in the structure of the joint.
“I had never been hospitalized before and could not have asked for better care. Even the day I was released the Doctor asked if I was ready to leave or if I wanted to stay another day as I didn’t feel “100%” yet. Nothing was an inconvenience to them and they truly did go out of their way to make sure I was as comfortable as I could be in the condition that I was in at the hospital.” -Rebecca
Prior to your x-ray, a member of our staff will address any questions as well as explain the procedure. Patients typically do not require any preparation, such as fasting, however, if your condition requires any specifications we will notify you during this time.
During your consultation, our staff will determine if you require additional procedures to diagnose problems involving the extremities. These procedures include computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), arthrogram, or bone scan.
The X-Ray Process
An x-ray can be performed on an outpatient basis or during your stay in the hospital. The procedure time varies from a few minutes to almost an hour based on the patient and their condition. Generally, an x-ray procedure of the extremities follows the same process. First, patients will remove any clothing, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other metal objects that might interfere with the procedure. Sometimes patients need to remove clothing. In this case, a gown is provided.
Then, depending on the extremity, patients will lay, sit or stand between the x-ray machine and the film or digital media. The radiologic technologist will use all possible measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain. In order to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure, our staff will cover certain body parts with a lead apron. Once in place, patients are asked to remain still while the x-ray is taken. This will prevent distorted images or the need to take additional images. Finally, the technician will take the images.
Results of an X-Ray
Afterward, patients that are not currently staying in the hospital are free to leave and return to their normal activities. In a hospital, patients may return to their room or receive more testing. Generally, there is no special type of care after X-rays of the extremities. However, our staff may give you additional instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
The radiologist will view the x-ray results and report their findings to the appropriate doctors. This process can take up to 7 days. Then, your healthcare provider will discuss the results with you and prepare an appropriate treatment plan.
Risks of an X-Ray
The risks of an x-ray, including cell damage and mutation, are extremely low since an x-ray only emits a limited amount of radiation. However, risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of x-ray examinations over a long period of time or specific to a medical condition. Therefore, Summit Healthcare recommends that patients keep a record of their past history of radiation exposure, such as previous scans and other types of x-rays, so that they can inform their doctor.
Patients that are pregnant or suspect that they may be pregnant, should notify our staff before their x-ray. A fetus is more susceptible to radiation and exposure may lead to birth defects. However, if it is necessary for you to have an X-ray of the extremities, special precautions will be made to minimize the radiation exposure. Any concerns can be discussed with our staff before an x-ray is taken.
The content we provide is for informational purposes only and patients should not use it to diagnose or treat a health problem or replace professional medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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