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Updated October 18, 2013


An x-ray of the wrist joint.

Image © Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

Definition: An x-ray is a simple, inexpensive procedure, and when performed in moderation, the risks of x-ray are minimal. The x-ray will show your doctor a two-dimensional picture of your body, and is a good screening tool to evaluate for causes of many common disorders.

An x-ray does not distinguish different tissues as well as a CT scan or MRI, but it does show evidence of many common problems. The amount of radiation that you would be exposed to by a normal x-ray is comparable to radiation exposure from an airplane flight. Precautions should be taken if you think you may be pregnant; otherwise, limited use of x-ray has been shown to be extremely safe.

Also Known As: radiograph, roentgenogram, radiogram

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