X-ray is a common radiology test used to examine many different parts of the body, such as the bones, chest and abdomen. X-ray images are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures. X-rays are performed for many reasons, including the diagnosis of injuries or to assess the progression of treatment in a patient.

Different parts of the body allow different amounts of the X-ray beam to pass through, which is why some parts of the body appear lighter and some appear darker on the X-ray image. The body's soft tissues allow more of the X-ray to pass through and appear darker, while bones appear lighter.

Learn more about common types of X-rays, and click on the links for further information about each procedure, including how to prepare for an X-ray exam:

Chest X-rays

Chest X-rays are done to examine the structure of the chest and the organs within it. A chest X-ray may be used to evaluate changes in the heart and lungs, and to look for conditions such as heart enlargement, pneumonia, pulmonary edema and tumors.

Abdominal X-rays

Your health care provider may order an abdominal X-ray to check the structures of the abdomen, diagnose causes of abdominal pain, look for obstructions or perforations or to look for swallowed foreign objects.

X-rays of the extremities

X-rays of the arms and legs are used to detect injuries such as broken bones, and may also be used to assess other issues with the bones and soft tissues such as arthritis, tendinitis or tumors. Joint X-rays may be performed to check for problems such as damage to cartilage, muscle, tendons and ligaments and other abnormalities.

X-rays of the spine, neck and back

X-rays of the spine, neck and back may be used to diagnose neck pain, back pain, broken bones or fractures, degenerative disks or abnormalities such as tumors or scoliosis.