Edinburgh Imaging

What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a safe & painless procedure that's often used to produce images of the inside of the body of a human or animal.

X-ray image of two hands
What are X-rays & what are they used for?

X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through the body. They can't be seen by the naked eye & you can't feel them.

As they pass through the body, the energy from X-rays is absorbed at different rates by different parts of the body. A detector on the other side of the body picks up the X-rays after they've passed through & turns them into an image.

Dense parts of your body that X-rays find it more difficult to pass through, such as bone, show up as clear white areas on the image. Softer parts that X-rays can pass through more easily, such as your heart & lungs, show up as darker areas.

X-rays are a very effective way of looking at fractured bones, such as a broken arm or wrist. They can also be used to examine organs & identify problems. For example, an X-ray can highlight a lung infection, such as pneumonia. Surgeons often use them during therapeutic procedures, such as a coronary angioplasty to help guide equipment to the area being treated.