Some people worry that X-rays aren’t safe because radiation exposure can cause cell mutations that may lead to cancer. The amount of radiation you’re exposed to during an X-ray depends on the tissue or organ being examined. Sensitivity to the radiation depends on your age, with children being more sensitive than adults.
Generally, however, radiation exposure from an X-ray is low, and the benefits from these tests far outweigh the risks.
However, if you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before having an X-ray. Though the risk of most diagnostic X-rays to an unborn baby is small, your doctor may consider another imaging test, such as ultrasound.
In some people, the injection of a contrast medium can cause side effects such as:
- A feeling of warmth or flushing
- A metallic taste
Rarely, severe reactions to a contract medium occur, including:
- Severe low blood pressure
- Anaphylactic shock
- Cardiac arrest
How you prepare
X-ray image of kidney stone
X-ray image of kidney stoneOpen pop-up dialog boxMan having an X-ray exam
X-ray examOpen pop-up dialog box
Different types of X-rays require different preparations. Ask your doctor or nurse to provide you with specific instructions.
What to wear
In general, you undress whatever part of your body needs examination. You may wear a gown during the exam, depending on which area is being X-rayed. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any metal objects because they can show up on an X-ray.
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