The Women's Health Resource. On the web since 1997.

What to Expect During an X-ray Examination

Man receiving chest x-ray by a technicianChest x-rayX-ray of right handMammogram film of breast

While there are differences, most conventional x-ray procedures are basically similar:

  • Patient preparation involves removing any articles of clothing or jewelry that might interfere with the creation of the x-ray image. Many x-ray examinations require the administration of a contrast agent.
  • The patient is positioned by the technologist so that the anatomy of interest is in the proper field of view between the x-ray tube and film or image intensifier.
  • The technologist leaves the room. For many types of x-ray, for example chest x-ray or bone x-ray, the patient is asked to hold their breath and/or remain perfectly still for a few moments while the technologist makes the x-ray picture.
  • Some x-rays (like upper gastro-intestinal series) will require the patient to drink a barium solution immediately before the x-rays are taken (to help delineate the internal structures).
  • The technologist will ask the patient to get dressed and wait while the x-ray images are reviewed (either on film or on a TV monitor).
  • After the films are reviewed, the patient will be released from the imaging department or center. In some cases, more images will need to be taken. For more information see what happens during a diagnostic imaging examination