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 X-Ray Information, Teen

X-Ray Information, 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.
X-rays are generally considered safe for teens. However, you should take steps to limit the amount of radiation that your body receives over your lifetime.

How is an X-ray done?

  1. You will lie on a table or stand.
  2. A protective shield or an apron made of lead may be placed over certain areas of your body to stop radiation from reaching them. This limits your radiation exposure.
  3. 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 during the X-ray procedure.
  4. The X-ray images will be printed on a sheet of film or recorded digitally.
  5. The recorded 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.

What are the benefits of X-rays?

X-rays are very helpful in diagnosing health problems. These 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 of X-rays?

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. 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.
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 questions should I ask my health care provider?

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.


  • 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.
  • If you are pregnant or may be pregnant, talk to your OB/GYN before getting an X-ray.

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.