Radiology FAQ

How does radiology work?

Radiology exposes part of the body to a small dose of radiation to produce an image. When X-rays penetrate the body, they are absorbed in varying amounts by different parts of the body. Bones, for example, absorb the radiation and, therefore, appear white or light gray on the image. Soft tissue, such as the lungs, appear darker because they absorb less radiation.

How should I prepare for the exam?

Some radiology procedures require preparation. Depending on the exam, you may be asked to drink a liquid called contrast media, or you may need to take a laxative or enema several hours before your exam. Some exams also require that you have nothing to eat or drink for a certain length of time before the exam.

What happens during the exam?

For an X-ray, you will be placed on a table. A radiology technologist will place an X-ray cassette under the table where your body will be imaged. The technologist may use pillows to help you hold the proper position. You will be asked to hold very still without breathing for a few seconds. The technologist will take the X-ray, sending a beam of radiation through your body to expose the film. If another view is needed, the technologist will reposition you and repeat the process.

What happens after the exam?

A radiologist, a doctor who specializes in reading X-rays, will interpret your exam and call any significant findings to the doctor who ordered your exam.