X-rays produce images of the inside of your body that doctors use to help detect many conditions.
What is an X-ray?
An X-ray uses electromagnetic radiation to see through your skin and show images of your internal features beneath it. X-rays are commonly performed, quick and non-invasive procedures that you can’t feel or see with your naked eye.
X-rays are carried out in a hospital radiology or imaging department, a diagnostic procedure clinic or dental practice, by trained healthcare professionals called radiographers or your dentist.
What are X-rays used for?
X-rays are used to either diagnose, monitor or treat problems in many areas of your body. They are mainly used to examine your bones and joints and sometimes your soft tissue and internal organs.
X-rays can be used to detect:
- bone fractures, breaks and infections.
- arthritis – and may be used to monitor if arthritis is worsening.
- osteoporosis – a bone density X-ray scan can diagnose or assess your risk of osteoporosis.
- tooth problems – dental decay and abscesses.
- scoliosis – shows abnormal spine curvature .
- bone tumours – cancerous and non-cancerous.
- lung problems - pneumonia, tuberculosis or lung cancer.
- swallowed items and swallowing problems (dysphagia) .
- breast cancer – mammography is a type of X-ray to examine breast tissue.
- blocked blood vessels – using a dye an X-ray highlights sections of your circulatory system.
- digestive tract problems – a barium X-ray uses contrast medium to help reveal digestive system issues.
- heart problems – can show an enlarged heart in heart failure.
X-rays are also used to guide doctors or surgeons when performing procedures such as inserting catheters, stents, or other devices inside your body, treating tumours, or removing blood clots or other blockages.
High doses of X-tray radiation therapy are used as a cancer treatment to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours.
What are the types of X-rays?
There are five types of X-ray:
- Conventional Radiography (Plain X-rays) - primarily used for viewing bones, bone fractures, tissues dense in calcium, and dental and chest problems. Digital X-rays are often performed now instead of using traditional film.
- Computed Tomography (CT) - produces detailed high-resolution images of your body that can provide additional information compared to plain X-rays. A CT scan can show organs, your skeleton, and tissues, and any abnormalities within these systems.
- Mammography - creates detailed images of a woman’s breast for breast screening and to diagnose breast disease if a woman has symptoms.
- Angiography - examines your arteries, veins, and organs such as your heart. Uses an X-ray and a contrast agent to enhance visibility to help diagnose and treat blockages or other problems within your blood vessels.
- Fluoroscopy - produces a continuous ‘live’ X-ray image, on a monitor, of internal structures such as your heart or the blood flow to the muscles of your heart. It can be used to position a pacemaker, catheter or orthopaedic implants and to view contrast agents.
Common types of X-rays include chest X-ray, abdominal X-ray, kidney, ureter and bladder X-ray, lung X-ray, bone X-ray, neck X-ray, skull X-ray, spine X-ray, pelvis X-ray, and hand and foot X-ray.
How are X-rays produced?
X-rays are produced by passing high-energy radiation through a part of your body. The energy from the X-ray is absorbed at different rates by different parts of your body. A detector or film on the other side of your body picks up the X-rays after they have passed through and turns them into an image. This shadowgraph shows your body’s internal features.
X-rays find it more difficult to pass through dense parts of your body, such as bone, which show up as clear white areas on your image. X-rays pass through softer parts of your body more easily, such as your heart and lungs, and these appear as darker areas.
A consultant radiologist or reporting radiographer will interpret the image and send a report to your referring clinician.
What is the cost of an X-ray scan?
The cost of an X-ray scan will depend on the type of X-ray you require, how many areas need scanning and your Ramsay hospital of choice.
You will receive a formal quotation price following a referral from your GP or clinician. This formal quote for your X-ray scan will be valid for 60 days.
Ramsay is recognised by all major medical insurers. X-ray scans are covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to check with your insurance provider and obtain their written authorisation before your X-ray scan.
X-ray at Ramsay Health Care
At Ramsay Health Care we offer our patients rapid access to state-of-the-art X-ray equipment and high-quality services. We provide X-ray scans quickly and at a convenient time as well as fast reporting. NHS waiting times for X-ray scans can be variable. You may choose a private X-ray appointment with us for peace of mind and to keep your care moving.
Our friendly X-ray staff are highly trained and experienced professionals who deliver excellent patient care and keep abreast of the latest advances in scanning. If your X-ray identifies a problem you have easy access to our on-site specialists to continue your care.
We have strict protocols in place to keep you safe during your visit to our Ramsay hospitals including optimised patient flows, social distancing in our waiting areas, and additional cleaning for common touchpoint areas.