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X-rays, Diagnostic

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WHAT IS A DIAGNOSTIC X-RAY?

A diagnostic x-ray is a medical procedure using x-rays to help identify (diagnose) a disease or injury inside your body. A machine uses x-rays to make an image on a film on the other side of your body. This picture is called a radiograph. This radiograph is the picture part of your permanent medical record. You cannot feel the x-rays.

Common uses of diagnostic x-rays are:

  • Chest x-rays (used when you have a persistent cough, cold, fever, etc.)
  • Bone x-rays (used after an injury or to follow-up an injury)
  • Foreign Body x-rays (used when you cut yourself with glass, swallow a penny, etc.)

WHAT DO WE DO TO PREPARE FOR A DIAGNOSTIC X-RAY?

For most general diagnostic x-rays there is no need for any special preparation. Ask your child's doctor or nurse about it when the appointment is made.

WHO DOES THE TEST?

A trained, registered technologist will perform the test.

HOW IS THE TEST DONE?

The x-ray machine is made up of several parts:

  • a table or stand that holds the x-ray cassette.
  • the control panel which is where the technologist sets the machine to take the x-ray
  • the overhead x-ray tube

The overhead tube is a lot like a camera used to take your picture at home. The x-ray goes through the body and hits a special screen to produce the x-ray. The technologist will position your body for the x-ray to show the doctor what he/she has asked for. You will then be asked to hold very still while the x-ray is being done.

HOW SHOULD I PREPARE MY CHILD?

Infants: You cannot explain the exam to your baby. You can help your baby feel more secure during the test by bringing a special blanket, toy or pacifier. Please bring along a bottle of juice or formula to feed your baby when the test is done.

Toddlers and preschool-age children: Young children remember things for only a short time, so the best time to talk about the test is right before you are ready to come to the hospital. Tell your child that you are going to the hospital to have some "pictures" taken that the doctor needs to help him/her get better. Try to use simple words. It is important to be honest with your child. Because children at this age are afraid of being separated from their parent, let him/her know that mom or dad will stay with him/her as much as possible. When you come to the hospital, bring a favorite book, toy or blanket. You may also bring a snack for after the test.

School-age children: School-age children have active imaginations. If you don't tell them the truth, they may imagine something much worse than the actual test. The day of the test, tell your child that he/she will be going to the hospital to have some pictures taken of the inside of his/her body. Tell him/her the pictures will help the doctor decide how to make him/her better. Use simple words, and be honest. Try to tell your child exactly what will happen. When you come to the hospital, bring along a favorite books, toy or game. If you wish, you may bring a snack for after the test.

WHO LOOKS AT THE PICTURES?

The radiologist will view all of the pictures and then sends a report to your child's doctor.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE TEST?

The technologist will give you the instructions you need and tell you when you may leave.

WHO WILL GIVE ME THE RESULTS?

The doctor who asked for the test will call you with the results within a few days. Please call your doctor's office if you have not heard anything after a few days.


Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

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