An X-ray, also called a radiograph, creates images of structures inside of your body. X-rays use a safe, small amount of ionizing radiation to make the pictures. Different tissues absorb different amounts of radiation. On the image, this shows up as shades of black and white. Radiologists are highly trained physicians who interpret X-ray films and other diagnostic images.
When you come to one of our six Dignity Health emergency rooms in Sacramento or a surrounding area for care, we may use an X-ray to diagnose your medical needs and provide personal, quality treatment. X-rays are given as part of emergency services at the clinical team’s request. In an emergency, call 911 for transport, or ask a friend or relative to drive you to your nearest emergency room.
What to Expect from X-Ray Imaging at Dignity Health
The technologist will position your body on an X-ray table or standing in front of a special screen. You may be given a lead apron to cover and protect other areas of your body from radiation. After the X-rays are taken, the technologist will check the images to make sure they are clear and readable. Most X-rays take just a few minutes.
Radiation during an individual X-ray poses little health risk in the most cases. However, if you are pregnant or think you might be, tell your doctor. They may suggest a different imaging test that does not use radiation, such as ultrasound or MRI. You can ask your technician to use the lowest possible dose of radiation necessary to achieve acceptable results.
Why Emergency X-Rays are Performed
Our experienced emergency doctors order X-rays to examine internal body parts and diagnose various conditions.
Doctors may order a chest X-ray if you have a cough with fever, shortness of breath, or an injury to help diagnose:
- Lung cancer
- Fluid in the lungs
- Enlarged heart
- Chest trauma, including broken ribs and collapsed lung
Doctors often order an X-ray for joint pain, pain with localized swelling and warmth, or following an injury to help diagnose:
- Broken bones
- Bone cancer
An abdominal X-ray can help your emergency care team understand the reasons for unexplained nausea, nonspecific belly or pelvic pain, and other symptoms and help diagnose:
- Kidney stones
- Swallowed objects
- Bowel obstruction
- Digestive tract problems
What Your X-Ray Results Mean
A radiologist at Dignity Health will read and interpret your X-ray and send a report to the emergency room physician. The doctor will discuss the results with you. In emergency settings, this can happen quickly because today’s X-rays are digital and can be easily shared on computers. Trust our ERs to use the latest technologies for X-rays and other imaging tests to provide the most advanced care.
After seeing the results, the doctor will diagnose your problem and recommend treatment, or you may need additional imaging exams or other tests.
Dignity Health offers X-rays in the Sacramento region as part of our emergency services.