An X-ray is a quick, painless imaging test that produces images of the structures inside your body — particularly your bones.

How does an X-ray work?

X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that can be focused into a beam, much like a flashlight beam. Unlike a beam of light, though, X-rays can pass through most objects, including the human body. When X-rays strike a piece of photographic film, they can produce a picture. Dense tissues in the body, such as bones, block (absorb) many of the X-rays and appear white on an X-ray picture. Less dense tissues, such as muscles and organs, block fewer of the X-rays (more of the X-rays pass through) and appear in shades of gray. X-rays that pass only through air appear black on an X-ray picture.

Safety in Imaging

At Intermountain Healthcare, our goal is to use the least amount of radiation (X-ray energy) needed to produce quality images. We work hard to make sure our equipment is safe and appropriate for your test. Our imaging teams have regular training on radiation safety. We communicate with doctors to help them choose imaging tests wisely.
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