Preparing for an X-Ray
Consult your doctor before the procedure. It is essential that you talk to your doctor before getting an X-ray, especially if you are breastfeeding or if you are or think you might be pregnant. You will be exposed to small amounts of radiation that can be dangerous for the developing fetus.
Ask if you need to be fasting. Depending on the type of X-ray test you receive, your doctor may ask you to fast before the exam. This is usually only necessary for certain X-rays of your digestive tract. Fasting normally requires you to not eat or drink for eight to 12 hours before your test.
- If you regularly take medication and are required to fast before an X-ray, take the medicine only with a small sip of water.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Dress comfortably for an X-ray because you will most likely be removing your outfit prior to the exam and/or sitting and waiting for an extended period of time.
- Wear loose clothing that you can easily remove, such as a button-up shirt and even a front-clasping bra for women.
- If you are receiving a chest X-ray, you will normally undress from the waist up. In this case, you will get a gown to wear during the exam.
Remove all jewelry, glasses, and metal objects. It is best to leave your jewelry at home as you may need to remove it for the exam. If you wear glasses, you may need to remove these as well.
Arrive early to your appointment. Just in case you need to fill out additional paperwork, it is better to arrive early to your appointment. Also, you may be asked to take a contrast medium before the test.
- Also, remember to bring a signed form from your doctor (if you have one) when you visit the X-ray technician. This form tells the technician what areas of the body are being examined and what X-ray test should be done.
- Don’t forget your insurance card.
Empty your bladder prior to the procedure if you are having an abdominal X-ray. You cannot move or leave the exam room once the procedure has begun. Try relieving yourself before the exam and do not drink excessively on the morning of the procedure.
Be prepared to drink a contrast medium (if applicable). Some X-ray tests require you to drink a contrast medium that helps outline a specific area of your body on the X-ray image. Depending on the type of X-ray test that will be administered, you may be asked to:
- Drink a solution of barium or iodine.
- Swallow a pill.
- Receive an injection
Be aware that you may have to hold your breath for a few seconds during the X-ray. Holding your breath helps the heart and lungs show up more clearly on the X-ray image. Depending on the type of X-ray, you may also need to hold still and/or move to different positions.
- The X-ray technician will position your body between the machine and a plate that creates the digital image.
- Sometimes sandbags or pillows might be used to hold you in a certain position.
- You may be asked to move in different positions so front and side views can be captured.
Expect not to feel anything during the X-ray exam. An X-ray is a painless procedure during which X-ray beams pass through your body and record an image. This procedure usually takes minutes for bone X-rays but can go longer if a contrast medium is used.