UKNOW’s Docs Procedures X-Ray

What is an X-Ray?

An X-Ray is a way doctors are able to take a look inside your body.  Here are just a few of the body parts that an X-Ray can take pictures of: your bones, teeth, lungs and abdomen (stomach area). The X-Ray uses a special box to take the pictures; the pictures that are taken are called radiographs.


Why do I need to have an X-Ray?

You are having an X-Ray because the doctor needs to see pictures of body parts that are inside your body.

What does an X-Ray machine look like?

An X-Ray machine is a big camera.  Some X-Ray machines are portable, that means that they can be moved and even be brought to your room to take the picture.  There are special flat square boxes that store the picture, just like in a camera. The box is used to help take the pictures with the X-Ray. Depending on what body part is being looked at, the box is placed behind or beside the body part. Once the pictures have been taken, the pictures are shown to the radiologist. He is a special doctor who looks at the X-Ray pictures.

What happens when I have an X-Ray?

A porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the X-Ray. A technologist (the person who will take the pictures) will greet you and explain what will happen. Sometimes the technologist will come to your room with a portable X-Ray machine and take the pictures there.

The technologist will give you a gown to wear. This looks like a backward housecoat. You may already be wearing one. The X-Ray room is usually a little dark; this helps when the pictures are being taken.

Depending on what body part they are taking a picture of, you may be asked to lie down on a bed, sit on a bed or stand up. Sometimes if they stay with you for the x-rays, the technologists will put on special lead vests that are called aprons. They will also put smaller lead blankets over the parts of your body that will not be in the picture.  These blankets sometimes can feel a little heavy. The lead blankets and vests are used to help keep the X-Rays only on the body parts that the doctors want pictures of.

Someone like your mom or dad can sometimes stay in the room with you; they will also have to wear a lead vest. The technologist will tell you how to sit or lie down so that they can get the best picture of your body part. They will then put the special box behind or beside the body part. The technologist will then move the X-Ray tube over the part of your body where they will take the picture. A light will shine on your body. The machine may come close to your body, but it will never touch you. You also may here small noises like a humming or clicking coming from the X-ray machine.

The technologist will ask you to stay very still and not move while they go behind a window to press a button to take the picture. Do your best to stay still like a statue while the pictures are being taken. If you are moving when the picture is being taken, the picture will be blurry and they will have to take more pictures. When all the pictures are done, the technologist will take the box and the lead blankets away. The test is very fast. It only takes a few minutes and then you can go back to your room.

What will the X-Ray feel like?

The X-Ray will not hurt. You cannot see, feel or hear the X-Rays. But, you might hear some noises coming from the machine when the pictures are being taken and you will see the light on the machine. Sometimes the special flat square box can feel a little cold when it is beside you. The lead blankets that they put on you can feel a little heavy.

Remember to lie still so they can get a clear picture.

Preparing for the test

Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your X-Ray. Sometimes you may have to do nothing to get ready.

For more information on each x-ray please click on the buttons below.


This content has been reviewed and approved by health care team members at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. All content is for educational purposes only. For further information, please speak with your health care team.

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