An X-ray examination involves positioning the area of your body that is going to be examined between a tube that produces X-rays and a digital plate. The examination is performed by a radiographer (a healthcare professional trained in how to use X-rays). X-rays pass through your body, and are absorbed by the tissues they pass through. Different parts of the body absorb different amounts of X-rays depending on how thick (dense) they are. In the final image, dense structures such as bone appear white and less dense structures such as the lungs appear black.
For self paying patients the price of a single region X-Ray varies according to location, but generally costs about £100. To find contact details of your nearest scanning centre please visit our Locate a Centre page.
If you are, or suspect that you may be pregnant, it is important that you tell the radiographer before the X-ray is carried out. All the information you give will be treated with the strictest confidence.
You do not need to make any special preparations for your X-ray examination. However, as far as possible, please remove jewellery that may interfere with the examination, for example, rings for hand X-rays and necklaces for chest X-rays. You may have to wear a gown if the X-ray is of your chest, stomach, hip or back. However, if you wear clothing that is free from metal (such as a tracksuit), you may not have to get changed.
If you need help because you speak a different language, please let us know when you book your appointment.
The radiographer must limit the number of people in the X-ray room to those involved in the examination. If you need a friend, relative or carer to come with you, please let us know when you book your appointment.
Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time; if you are late we may not be able to carry out your test. Please do not bring children to your appointment.
One of our staff will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. You may have to undress and put on an examination gown.
The examination will be performed with you standing, sitting or lying on a table, depending on the area of your body that needs to be examined. The radiographer may need to press gently on bony parts of your body to make sure that you are in the right position. The radiographer will stand behind a radiation screen when the X-ray is made. Depending on the area of your body being examined, the radiographer may ask you to hold your breath while the X-ray is being taken. After the X-rays have been taken, you will be asked to wait while the images are checked. It is sometimes necessary to take further X-rays.
The radiographer who takes the X-ray will not be able to give you any results at the time of the examination. A consultant radiologist will analyse your X-rays and report back to the doctor who referred you for your X-ray. You should telephone to confirm that they have received your report before arranging an appointment, unless the doctor has made different arrangements with you.
How long will it take?
The time spent in the X-ray room will probably be about 5 to 20 minutes
Are there any side effects?
An X-ray is painless. You cannot see or feel X-rays. X-rays are a form of radiation. Everybody receives a small amount of radiation from the environment every day. The radiation received from any single X-ray is very small, and would be similar to the amount you would be exposed to on a transatlantic flight. As a matter of safety, your doctor will only ask you to have an X-ray examination when there is no other way to find out the information.
Unborn children are at greater risk from being exposed to X-rays because they are still developing. For this reason, if you are, or suspect that you may be pregnant, it is important that you tell the radiographer before the X-ray is carried out. All the information you give will be treated with the strictest confidence.