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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:




X-rays use a small dose of radiation to take pictures of the inside of the body.

X-ray of Teeth.

Jaw x-ray teethhttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=68866886jaw_x_ray.jpgJaw x-ray teethNULLjpgJaw x-ray teethNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\jaw_x_ray.jpgNULL37NULL2008-01-292004006886_200812Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

X-rays can be taken of any part of the body. They are best for looking at teeth and injuries to bones. They can also be used to:

  • Find an infection, such as pneumonia
  • Look for signs of arthritis
  • Diagnose heart and large blood vessel problems
  • Look for fluid in the lungs
  • Look for problems in the belly

A special dye called contrast may also be used. It makes it easier to see:

  • The stomach and intestines, gallbladder, or liver
  • Small blood vessel disease
  • Urinary tract or reproductive system problems
  • Bleeding
  • Tumors

Possible Complications

X-rays do not cause short-term health problems. But radiation doses may build up in the body over time. The more x-rays a person has, the more radiation there will be. This can raise the risk of some cancers or thyroid problems. The risk is higher in children and women who could get (or are) pregnant.

Lead safety shields are used during x-rays. They help lower the amount of radiation to the body.

What to Expect

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Test

The care team will meet with you to talk about:

  • Any allergies you may have
  • If you may be pregnant




  • Decision rules for x-ray use in knee injuries. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/decision-rules-for-x-ray-use-in-knee-injuries.
  • Reducing radiation from medical x-rays. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm095505.htm.
  • X-ray (radiography). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/submenu.cfm?pg=xray.
  • X-rays. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/x/x-rays.


  • April Scott, NP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.