X-Rays (What to know for teens)

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    X-Rays, Teen

    X-Rays, Teen

    X-rays are pictures of the inside of your body. An X-ray machine creates these pictures using waves of energy known as radiation. Your health care provider may use X-rays to look for problems such as broken bones, joint problems, lung infections, and causes of stomach pain.

    Tell a health care provider about:

    • Any allergies you have.
    • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
    • Any surgeries you have had.
    • Any medical conditions you have.
    • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

    If you are pregnant or may be pregnant, talk to your OB/GYN before getting an X-ray. You will need to take certain precautions, such as placing a protective apron over your abdomen to protect the baby.

    What are the benefits?

    X-rays are very helpful in diagnosing health problems. Here are some of the benefits of X-rays:
    • They are fast, easy, and do not hurt.
    • They do not involve any surgery or anesthesia.
    • They are useful in an emergency when you need a quick diagnosis.
    • They offer an accurate diagnosis of many types of injuries and conditions.
    • They usually do not cause side effects.
    • The radiation exposure is very small.
    • The radiation does not stay in your body after the X-ray is finished.

    What are the risks?

    X-rays are generally considered safe for teens. However, being exposed to too much radiation over a lifetime can increase the risk of cancer. This can occur if you have many X-rays throughout your life. The risk from a single X-ray test is small.

    Children and teens are more sensitive to radiation than adults. If the X-ray machine is not adjusted for their smaller size, young people may receive higher doses of radiation. Also, because young people have a longer life expectancy than adults, there is more time for any exposure to radiation to have long-term effects. Before getting an X-ray, ask your health care provider:
    • If the X-ray is necessary to diagnose your condition.
    • If the X-ray machine is made for teens.
    • If the X-ray machine setting can be lowered for your age and size.
    • If devices will be used to protect other parts of your body from radiation.

    What happens before the procedure?

    • You may need to remove glasses, jewelry, and any other metal objects.
    • You will likely be asked to undress whatever part of your body needs the X-ray. If needed, you will be given a hospital gown to wear.
    • A protective shield or an apron made of lead may be placed over certain areas of your body to stop radiation from reaching them.

    What happens during the procedure?

    • You will lie on a table or stand up depending on which part of your body needs the X-ray.
    • You will be asked to stay as still as possible during the exam in order to get the best possible images.
    • The X-ray machine will send out beams of radiation pointed at the area of your body that needs to be examined. Several images may be taken at different angles.
    • The X-ray images will be printed on a sheet of film or recorded digitally.

    The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

    What can I expect after the procedure?

    • You will be able to return to your normal activities.
    • The X-ray images will be sent to a health care provider who studies and interprets what the images show. Your health care provider may also show you the X-rays and explain what they show.


    • X-rays use radiation to create an image of your body or part of your body.
    • X-rays are one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to examine parts of your body and diagnose problems.
    • X-rays are normally safe, but you still want to limit the number of X-rays that are taken. If taken too many times in your life, X-rays can increase the risk of cancer.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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