Bone x-ray

Definition

A bone x-ray may detect fractures, tumors, or degenerative conditions of the bone.

Alternative Names

X-ray - bone

How the Test is Performed

The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider's office by an x-ray technician. You will position the bone to be x-rayed on the table, pictures are then taken, and the bone is repositioned, if necessary, for different views.

How to Prepare for the Test

Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. You must remove all jewelry.

How the Test Will Feel

The x-rays themselves are painless. However, repositioning the bone may be uncomfortable.

Why the Test is Performed

A bone x-ray is used to detect fractures, tumors, or degenerative conditions of the bone.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal findings include fractures, bone tumors, degenerative bone conditions, and osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone caused by an infection).

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

Risks

There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits.

Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the x-ray. A protective shield may be worn over areas not being scanned.

References

Tamisiea DF. Radiologic aspects of orthopedic diseases. In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 16.

Rogers LF. Talianovic MS, Boles CA. Skeletal trauma. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Adam, Dixon AK, eds.Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 46.


Review Date: 5/2/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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