What are X-rays?

X-rays allow medical providers to see the inside of your body. They are especially helpful in providing images of bones. X-rays use electromagnetic waves, which are absorbed differently by each tissue. The X-rays show white when a structure absorbs more radiation. This is why bones look white, muscle and fat look gray, and air looks black. Sometimes a dye or contrast material made of iodine or barium is used to highlight different areas of the body in the X-ray. This can help show the X-ray image in greater detail.

Are X-rays safe?

X-rays are a common, effective and safe way for your provider to view and diagnose medical problems. X-rays do produce small doses of radiation. It is best not to expose unborn babies to X-rays. Tell your doctor if you are, or could be, pregnant before your procedure. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to barium or iodine. Keep your technician and doctor updated on how you are feeling after you are given the contrast material.

When do I need an X-ray?

Your doctor may recommend an X-rays to help diagnose:

  • Broken bones

  • Pneumonia

  • Breast cancer

  • Cancer and tumors

  • Osteoporosis

  • Dental decay

  • Heart issues

  • Arthritis

  • Infections

  • Digestive tract issues

  • Abnormal objects swallowed or inhaled

MaineHealth offers a complete set of medical imaging services that are supported by board-certified radiologists and specially trained technicians.