Digital Radiography (X-ray)

X-ray is the oldest and most frequently used form of imaging to see inside the human body. It uses a focused beam and a special detector to obtain images of body anatomy. It is also a safe and generally non-invasive procedure.

X-rays are absorbed by different body tissues in varying degrees. Dense tissue, like bone, absorbs most X-rays and appears white on the image. Less dense tissues appear in shades of gray. X-rays that pass through air, like in the lungs and colon, aren’t absorbed at all and appear black on the image.

The X-ray is used for a variety of reasons when images of internal body structures are needed.


For most X-rays, no special preparation is required, however the following tests also use X-ray and do require you to follow the preparation instructions prior to your test:

  • An Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP) is an X-ray of the kidneys, ureters and bladder taken after a dye is injected into a vein.
    Special instructions:
    • Drink four 8-ounce glasses of water between 1:00 pm and 10:00 pm the day BEFORE your exam.
    • On the day of your exam, you may have coffee, water or juice until 3 hours prior to exam.
    • You may also take medication with water, as prescribed by your physician.
  • A Barium Enema is a special X-ray of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum. During this procedure, barium sulfate is injected into the colon.
    Special instructions:
    • DAY BEFORE EXAM: Clear liquids at noon and supper meals. Eat no solid food. Drink six 8-ounce glasses of water between 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm. At 5:00 pm drink one bottle of Citrate of Magnesia (10 ounces) At 8:00 pm take two Biscodyl (Dulcolax) pills.
    • DAY OF EXAM: Insert one Biscodyl (Dulcolax) rectal suppository upon arising. No solid food. You may have coffee, water or juice until one hour prior to the exam.
  • An Upper GI Series is a series of X-rays of the esophagus. The X-rays are taken after the patient drinks a barium solution.
    Special instructions:
    • DAY BEFORE EXAM: Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.

If you are pregnant, please tell our patient representative.

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