What is an X-ray?

An X-ray (or radiograph) is a non-invasive diagnostic test of a body part or area of a patient’s body that is produced using an x-ray “beam”. The beam is invisible and passes through the body producing a picture based on the density of the structures it encountered. X-rays play an important role in a number of medical settings including in their use for dental procedures and mammography. X-rays involve a low dose of radiation and are limited to the area of interest, making this an extremely safe diagnostic tool.

Why did my doctor order an X-ray?

X-rays play an important role in the evaluation of various musculoskeletal disorders including trauma related injuries such as bone fractures and joint dislocations and more chronic joint problems like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The information found on the X-ray images can play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of these and other medical conditions.

How should I prepare for the X-ray?

There is no preparation needed for the vast majority of musculoskeletal X-rays. If there is any possibility of pregnancy, you should inform your referring doctor, our scheduling office when your appointment is booked as well as the radiology technologist at the time of your imaging appointment. In most cases, an X-ray will not be done if there is a chance a patient is pregnant unless the benefits out weight the risks of radiation.

What should I bring to my appointment?

In order for us to perform your test, you will need to bring your prescription, insurance card, and any related insurance forms or pre-approvals.

When should I arrive for my appointment?

When you schedule your appointment, our scheduling associate will let you know how soon before your appointment time you should arrive. Depending on the exact type of exam, this may be 30-60 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will allow time for registration and to complete all necessary paperwork, forms, and questionnaires.

To save time, you may download, print, and fill out the appropriate forms at home and bring them with you on the day of your appointment.

How is the X-ray performed and who interprets the X-ray?

The X-ray examination will be performed by one of our experienced, licensed radiology technologists. Our technologists are trained in producing diagnostic, low-radiation images that limit the risk of radiation to our patients while producing high quality pictures that can be used to make an accurate diagnosis. Lead shields and aprons are available for use as needed.

Depending on the type of examination, you may need to change into a gown and/or remove certain clothing or accessories that may interfere with the quality of the picture. You will then be taken into one our dedicated X-ray rooms to have your study completed.  Once the images are obtained, the technologist will review to make sure that they meet the criteria for diagnostic use. Occasionally, additional images may need to be obtained in order to have all the important information included on the study. The X-ray images are then sent electronically to the musculoskeletal radiologist for review.

The musculoskeletal radiologist is a physician trained in radiology with sub-specialty training in conditions of the musculoskeletal system including sports medicine injuries, spinal disorders, arthritis, and tumors. The MSK radiologists at NYU combine a comprehensive knowledge base of these various conditions with a deft understanding of X-ray imaging to produce high-quality, accurate interpretations of your imaging studies. The findings that the radiologist sees on your study are summarized and organized into a report that is immediately sent to your doctor for review. If there is an emergent finding (ex. acute fracture) that needs urgent attention, the radiologist will call your doctor directly to explain what is found on the X-ray.

What can I expect after the examination?

You should be able to leave our department without assistance right after the study has been completed and resume your regular daily activities without limitation. You should follow up with your referring physician to review the results. Copies of this report should be available at your referring doctor’s office.