Providence Health & Services
Imaging Center (PIC)
X-rays are a form of ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation exists on a scale, with the lower powered energy at the bottom, (microwave, radio waves, visible light, etc) Higher-powered energy in this same spectrum include x-rays, gamma rays and particulate radiation (alpha and beta waves, used in nuclear medicine.)
The higher-powered energies on this spectrum are ionizing because they have the energy to change the molecules that they pass through. This is what makes these energies harmful unlike visible light and radio waves.
X-rays exist naturally but are created by our machines in a VERY controlled manner that allow our technologists to set very exact technical factors. It is these factors that change depending on body part and/or the examination being performed.
Our department performs a number of different examinations. To learn more about the specific testing you are having, click on the examinations tab. We have provided details on the exam as well as information on what to expect on your visit to our department.
There is only one contraindication to plain x-ray and that is pregnancy. If you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or are trying to become pregnant, PLEASE inform the technologist. That way, an assessment can be made of your specific situation to determine any risk to an unborn child. If it is decided that the possibility of pregnancy is too high, you may be asked to come back at a later date for your x-ray examination.
Should I be concerned about the radiation that I am getting?
Although you are being exposed to ionizing radiation, your physician has weighed the benefits of the information obtained from your procedure, against the risk of ill-effects from the radiation you receive and knows that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Your technologist has been well trained and is bound by standards of practice to keep your radiation dose as low as reasonably achievable. Technology has also allowed us to provide optimum results, while minimizing your exposure.
Sometimes extra views of an area may be needed to better demonstrate anatomy or pathology. Your technologist will ensure that each view is diagnostic and that no view is wasted.
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