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Types of imaging


Imaging using X-rays is a commonly used test carried out to help diagnose medical conditions. A diagnostic X-ray image is produced when a small amount of controlled radiation passes through the body recording an image on a detector plate placed on the other side.

X-rays are invisible and you don’t feel them when they pass through your body. X-rays are absorbed by body tissues and bones in differing amounts. For example, bones do not allow as much radiation to pass through as soft tissues therefore the bones show up as white areas on the images whereas lungs, for example, which are less dense because they are filled with air, show up as darker areas.

X ray

What to expect

One of our specialist team will meet you to prepare you. We will complete a safety checklist with you in private and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. You will be asked to sign a consent form before your X-ray.

You will need to remove all metal objects such as clothing with zips, jewellery, hair grips and piercings from the area of your body being examined as they can affect the X-ray image.

The radiographer either will position you comfortably on the X-ray couch or ask you to sit or stand depending on which body part is being examined. We may need to make several small adjustments to ensure that you are in the correct position to obtain the best images. Depending on the instructions we received from your referrer, several images may need to be taken in different positions.

You will be asked to stay still and may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. The radiographer will be able to see and hear you at all times. They will stand behind a screen
while they take the X-ray.

How long does an x-ray take

How long does an X-ray take?

Approximately 5–10 minutes but it depends on which body part is being examined.

Patient information leaflet

Download our Patient Information leaflet to find out more about our X-ray service.

X-ray leaflet
x-ray patient leaflet
Referrer survey


We can accept referrals from medical practitioners i.e. consultants and GPs, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, Extended Scope Practitioners and Dentists. Sports massage therapists who wish to refer for MRI must have the appropriate qualifications.

X-ray FAQ's

If you have any questions or queries, we are happy to help so please do not hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, please look at the questions we are asked most often.

X-rays can be used to examine most areas of the body. They are mainly used to assess the bones and joints, although they can sometimes be used to detect problems affecting soft tissues.

People are often concerned about being exposed to radiation during an X-ray. However, the part of your body being examined will only be exposed to a low level of radiation for a fraction of a second. Generally, the amount of radiation you’re exposed to during an X-ray is the equivalent of between a few days and a few months of exposure to natural radiation from the environment.

The benefits and risks of having an X-ray will be weighed up before it’s recommended. You can talk to your referrer or radiographer about the potential risks beforehand if you have any concerns.

X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through the body. They can’t be seen by the naked eye and you can’t feel them.

As they pass through the body, the energy from X-rays is absorbed at different rates by different parts of the body. A detector on the other side of the body picks up the X-rays after they have passed through and turns them into an image.

Dense parts of the body that X-rays find it more difficult to pass through, such as bone, show up as white areas on the image. Softer parts that X-rays can pass through more easily, such as the heart and lungs, show up as darker areas.

During an X-ray, you will usually be asked to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface so that the part of your body being examined can be positioned in the right place.

The X-ray machine, which looks like a tube containing a large light bulb, will be carefully aimed at the part of the body being examined by the radiographer. They will operate the machine from behind a screen in the same room.

The X-ray will last for a fraction of a second. You won’t feel anything while it’s carried out.

While the X-ray is being taken, you’ll need to keep still so that the image produced isn’t blurred. More than one X-ray may be taken from different angles to provide as much information as possible.

The procedure will only take a few minutes.

You won’t experience any after-effects from an X-ray. The X-ray images will be reported by a specialist doctor, called a radiologist, and the results sent to the doctor or medical professional who referred you for the X-ray.

You don’t need to do anything special to prepare for an X-ray. You should let us know if you are or could be pregnant as X-rays aren’t usually recommended during pregnancy.

It’s a good idea to wear loose comfortable clothing for your X-ray. Try to avoid wearing jewellery and clothes containing metal (such as zips), as these will need to be removed before the X-ray. We provide patient gowns and scrubs and will let you know when you arrive if you need to get changed.