X-ray or radiography, is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical diagnostic imaging. Discovered more than a century ago, x-rays can produce images of the structures inside the human body. X-ray images are produced when a small amount of radiation passes through the body to create an exposure similar to photography. X-ray is a fast and easy imaging method used by physicians to obtain an “inside look”.

X-rays can be used to diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative diseases such as arthritis. They can also play an important role in the detection and diagnosis of cancer, although usually computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is better at defining the extent and the nature of a suspected cancer. At least two and sometimes three to four x-ray images are obtained from different angles in order to properly view the anatomy.

Another common type of x-ray taken is of the chest. Chest x-rays are a simple way of providing physicians with valuable information concerning the general condition of your health. They are used primarily to evaluate the lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and the diaphragm. Chest x-rays are frequently utilized in cases of suspected pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung tumor or collapsed lung.

For most X-rays, no special preparation is required; however the following tests also use x-ray and do require you to follow the preparation instructions prior to your test:

An Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP) is an x-ray of the kidneys, ureters and bladder taken after a dye is injected into a vein.

Special instructions:

  • Drink four 8-ounce glasses of water between 1:00 pm and 10:00 pm the day BEFORE your exam
  • On the day of your exam, you may have coffee, water or juice until 3 hours prior to exam.
  • You may also take medication with water, as prescribed by your physician.

A Barium Enema is a special x-ray of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum. During this procedure, barium sulfate is injected into the colon.

Special instructions:

  • DAY BEFORE EXAM: Clear liquids at noon and supper meals. Eat no solid food. Drink six 8-ounce glasses of water between 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm. At 5:00 pm drink one bottle of Citrate of Magnesia (10 ounces) At 8:00 pm take two Biscodyl (Dulcolax) pills.
  • DAY OF EXAM: Insert one Biscodyl (Dulcolax) rectal suppository upon arising. No solid food. You may have coffee, water or juice until one hour prior to the exam.

An Upper GI Series is a series of x-rays of the esophagus. The x-rays are taken after the patient drinks a barium solution.

Special instructions:

  • DAY BEFORE EXAM: Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.