Bone X-ray

Alternative names
X-ray - bone(s)

An X-ray used to detect fractures, tumors, or degenerative conditions of the bone.

How the test is performed
The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider’s office by an X-ray technician. You are asked to position the bone to be X-rayed on the table. The pictures are then taken, repositioning the bone for different views.

How to prepare for the test
Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. You must remove all jewelry.

For infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age and previous experiences. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

  • infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel
The X-rays themselves are painless; however, repositioning the bone may be uncomfortable.

Why the test is performed
A bone X-ray is used to detect fractures, tumors, or degenerative conditions of the bone.

What abnormal results mean
Abnormal findings include fractures, bone tumors, degenerative bone conditions, and osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone caused by an infection).

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

  • cystic fibrosis  
  • multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II  
  • multiple myeloma  
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease  
  • osteogenesis imperfecta  
  • osteomalacia  
  • Paget’s disease  
  • primary hyperparathyroidism  
  • rickets

What the risks are

There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits.

Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the X-ray. A protective shield may be worn over areas not being scanned.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.