Medical imaging, including X-rays, plays a vital role in diagnosing and treating various health conditions in children. However, the process can often seem daunting to both parents and their little ones. This article aims to demystify the procedure, providing an overview of what to expect when your child needs an X-ray.
X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through the body to create images of the bones, lungs, and other internal organs. When taking an X-ray, the amount of radiation that hits the digital sensor or film behind the body part varies depending on the density of the tissues, resulting in a detailed image.
The process is painless and usually quick, lasting only a few minutes.
In most cases, no special preparation is required for an X-ray. However, your child might need to change into a hospital gown to prevent any buttons or zippers from interfering with the image. Any jewelry or metal objects should also be removed for the same reason.
If your child has any questions or fears about the procedure, be sure to reassure them and explain that the X-ray machine is just a big camera that takes pictures of their bones and organs.
When children are anxious or frightened about an unknown procedure such as an X-ray, ensuring their comfort becomes an essential part of the process. Familiarizing your child with what to expect can help alleviate their fears. For younger children, it might be helpful to play pretend X-ray sessions using toys to demonstrate the process.
During the X-Ray
The radiologic technologist, a professional trained to take X-rays, will position your child based on the part of the body being examined. They may stand, sit, or lie down on a table. Sometimes, lead shields may be used to protect other parts of the body from radiation exposure.
The machine itself may be moved close to your child's body, but it will not touch them. They will be asked to stay very still, and in some cases, hold their breath for a few seconds to ensure a clear image is captured.
A parent or caregiver is usually allowed to stay in the room, wearing a lead apron for protection, to provide comfort and reassurance to the child.
After the X-Ray
Once the X-ray is taken, your child can return to their regular activities immediately. The images are typically reviewed by a radiologist, a doctor who specializes in interpreting X-rays and other medical imaging. The radiologist will send a report to your child's doctor, who will then discuss the results with you.
Find a children's X-ray specialist near you.