X-rays are a form of energy, similar to light and radio waves. Unlike light waves, x-rays have enough energy to pass through your body. As the radiation moves through your body, it passes through bones, tissues and organs at different rates, allowing an image to be formed. X-ray examinations are a quick and painless way for doctors to diagnose and monitor many health conditions.
Opus Diagnostics has a state-of-the-art digital x-ray room enabling a wide range of plain radiographs to be carried out, as well as imaging specific to individual musculoskeletal requirements, such as long leg measurements and whole spine imaging. Your x-ray will be carried out by one of our experienced radiographers.
Do I need to be referred for an X-ray?
Yes, you will need a referral from your Consultant or GP. We operate a walk-in service for x-ray, so you don’t need to book an appointment.
Are there any risks associated with having an X-ray?
X-rays are commonly performed and safe. You will be exposed to radiation, but the amount you receive isn’t considered to be harmful. The level of exposure will depend on the body part examined. Your referring doctor will have considered the benefit of having the examination versus the risk of a radiation dose before referring you for the examination. Radiographers practice ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable), which means they make every effort to keep the radiation dose for every examination as low as possible. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your x-ray please discuss these with your radiographer.
You must tell the radiographer if you are, or could be, pregnant. X-rays are not recommended for pregnant women unless there is an urgent medical reason.
Before your X-ray examination
You may eat and drink as normal before your x-ray unless you are advised otherwise. Depending upon the part of your body is being x-rayed, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. You may also be asked to remove jewellery and piercings.
You will be asked to sign a consent form before your examination.
During your X-ray
You will be taken into the x-ray room, where you will be positioned against the x-ray detector. Determined by the body part you are having x-rayed, you may be asked to lie on the x-ray table, sit in a chair beside the x-ray table or stand at the wall-stand. The radiographer will get you into the correct position and ask you to keep still. The radiographer will operate the x-ray machine from behind a screen but will be able to see and hear you at all times. You will hear a beep while the x-ray is being taken. The radiographer will ask you to relax while the images are being checked. The radiographer will repeat this process until they have all the images that are required. Once the examination is complete and no more images are needed, you will be free to get dressed and return to the waiting room.
After your X-ray
You will be provided with a disc copy of your x-ray images after your examination.
There is no aftercare needed and you are free to leave the clinic as soon as you are ready.
Your images will be available immediately on our image viewing system for your Consultant to view. A Consultant Radiologist will provide a formal report within 24-48 hours. All patient information is protected and stored using the strictest security measures.
We all receive radiation, known as ‘background radiation’ every day, although mankind has successfully adapted to it over millions of years. This background radiation is due to natural causes from:
- cosmic rays reaching the earth from space
- certain rocks (which may be contained in building materials)
- travel (particularly air flight)
- naturally occurring radon gas (particularly widespread in granite areas of the country such as Devon, Cornwall
In any one year, our exposure will vary according to where we’ve lived, where we may have flown to and what we may have eaten.
Every x-ray we have gives us a small additional dose of radiation; the level of dose varies with different types of x-ray examinations. Generally, the amount of radiation you will receive during your x-ray examination is the equivalent of between a few days and a few years of exposure to natural ‘background radiation’ that you would receive from the environment. Examinations such as x-rays of limbs have doses that are relatively low and equivalent to less than 1.5 days background radiation and so carry a very low risk to you.
Every exposure to X-rays carries a risk of causing cancer many years or decades later; however this risk is thought to be very small; a general x-ray of your chest or limbs has a less than 1 in 1,000,000 chance of causing cancer (NHS Choices, 2015).
More information on the typical doses received can be found on the following website: