What is an X-ray?
An X-ray is a test that uses radiation to produce images of the structures inside your body like your bones. A spine X-ray can provide detailed images of the bones of the spine. During an X-ray, a focused beam of radiation is passed through your body and a black-and-white image is recorded on special film or a computer.
After X-ray beams pass through your body, they are absorbed in different amounts. The density of the material they pass through determines how much is absorbed. For instance, less dense materials like the air in the lungs will show up as black. However, dense materials like bones of the spine show up as white.
Why would I get an X-ray?
X-ray is used to help in the diagnosis of bone diseases like tumors, arthritis, fractures, osteoporosis, and infections. These diseases can happen in the bones of the spine.
It also can be used to diagnose chest conditions like lung infections, breast cancer, or heart problems.
What happens during an X-ray?
The technologist will position your body against the X-ray film in a way that produces the clearest image.
During the X-ray exposure, you will be asked to remain still, avoid moving, and, sometimes, to hold your breath, so that the image doesn’t blur.
Most upper or lower spine X-rays are taken while the patient is lying down on the X-ray table; they also can be taken while the patient is standing.
What to expect after the procedure
You may be asked to wait a few minutes while the radiologist makes sure the X-ray images are clear and not blurred. You can resume your regular daily activities after an X-ray. X-rays usually have no side effects.
Your X-ray report will be sent to your doctor. In some non-emergency cases, results may take 1 or 2 days to be delivered to your doctor. In cases of abnormal findings, your physician will discuss this with you to see what are the best approaches.
Cleveland Clinic: Spine X-Ray