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What is an X-ray exam?

An X-ray exam is a noninvasive medical test that helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions. X-ray exams produce pictures that view the inside of the body by using a small dose of ionizing radiation. This is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging that may be performed on newborns, infants and older children. X-rays help identify sources of pain, evaluate traumatic injuries and locate a foreign body.

At Rady Children’s you can be rest assured that your child’s exam is being performed by highly trained and certified radiologic technologists. We perform more than 155,000 X-ray exams each year in San Diego and at our satellite locations.

xray photo

What should I expect during my child’s X-ray exam?

  • X-rays vary in time depending on the part of the body in which the X-ray is done. (Also, how well your child can stay still.)
  • X-rays are generally quick exams.
  • X-rays are not painful in any way.

The goal of the exam is to take X-ray pictures of your child’s body. Location of pictures will vary depending on the type of X-ray ordered for your child.

  • Your child may be asked to remove any jewelry they might have on and possibly change into a hospital gown.
  • Your child will be asked to either stand or sit in a certain position or lie down on a table.
  • The radiology technologist will then use the X-ray camera to take pictures. They will do this by placing the camera near the area of your child’s body the X-ray was ordered for.
  • The camera can sometimes be intimidating for children. The camera is big but will never touch them.
  • The room may be dark, and light will emit from the camera to help the radiology technologist line it up with your child’s body.
  • Your child will need to hold completely still for X-ray pictures to be taken.
  • Sometimes a radiologist will assist with pictures depending on the situation.
  • After the pictures are taken the exam is complete.

What is my role as a parent/guardian during the X-ray exam?

  • Parents and guardians are welcome to be present during exam to support their child.

Due to use of radiation, women who believe there is a possibility they may be pregnant or are pregnant will not be allowed in room while X-ray is being used. These women may be with their child during times when radiation will not be used.

  • Medical staff will instruct parents/guardians on where to sit/stand while in the room to help the exam run smoothly.
  • Parents/guardians are encouraged to help their child relax and keep calm during the exam.
  • Parents/guardians are also a great help when encouraging the child to hold still during pictures.
  • If your child has any comfort items such as stuffed animals, a small handheld toy or blanket, please feel free to bring them along.

Who will I meet during my child’s X-ray exam?

  • Radiology technologist
  • Radiologist

Is there anything else that I need to know after my child’s X-ray exam?

  • After an X-ray your child can resume normal activities and diet.
  • No special care or follow-up is needed after an X-ray.
  • This information helps provide basic knowledge of an X-ray exam. Exam experiences may vary depending on your child’s age or developmental level.
  • Your technologist for the exam will explain the exam in detail, so please feel free to ask questions if needed. We as a hospital team are here to support both you and your child throughout your experience.