What is an X-ray?

female physician looking at x-ray results on computer screen

X-rays are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays pass through body tissues onto specially-treated plates (similar to camera film) and a “negative” type picture is made. The more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film. Instead of film, X-rays are now typically made by using computers and digital media.

When the body undergoes this imaging procedure, different parts of the body allow varying amounts of the beams to pass through. Images are made in degrees of light and dark. It depends on the amount of X-rays that penetrate the tissues. The soft tissues in the body (like blood, skin, fat, and muscle) allow most of the beams to pass through and appear dark gray on the film. 

A bone or a tumor, which is denser than soft tissue, allows few of the beams to pass through and appears white on the image. At a break in a bone, the beam passes through the broken area. It appears as a dark line in the white bone.

Risks of an X-Ray
Before Your X-Ray
During Your X-Ray
After Your X-Ray
How Do I Find Out My X-Ray Test Results?
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