What is an x-ray?

An x-ray uses high-energy rays to take a picture of the inside of your body. There are different reasons why you might need an x-ray.

Why do I need an x-ray?

The type of x-ray you have depends on the part of your body the doctors want to examine. Some common types include:

  • a chest x-ray to check your lungs are healthy, or to look for changes that may be caused by a cancer
  • a bone x-ray to check whether there is a problem in a bone or joint, or to look for signs of cancer.

What happens?

Having an x-ray is not painful and only takes a few minutes. The person doing the x-ray (a radiographer) might ask you to change into a gown. You will be asked to remove any jewellery or anything containing metal.

You might have the x-ray sitting up, lying down or standing. This depends on the part of your body that is being x-rayed.

After the scan

You won't have any after effects from a standard x-ray.

Any test using radiation can slightly increase your risk of developing a cancer when you are older. However this is not common, and the risk is very small compared to the benefit of having the test. Your doctor can tell you more about this.

You will usually get the results within a few days. Waiting for test results can be a worrying time. Talking to your family and friends about how you feel can help. You can also speak to your doctor or nurse if you have any problems, or if you need more support.