A general X-ray is the original and most commonly used form of diagnostic imaging. Small amounts of radiation are passed through a selected part of the body to produce a diagnostic image. It is usually used to evaluate the chest and musculoskeletal system.

What is a general X-ray?

Imaging produced by X-rays shows different structures of the body in various shades of grey. In areas that don't absorb X-rays well, the grey appears darkest. In dense areas that do absorb more of the X-rays, such as bones, the grey appears lighter. X-rays can be either still or moving images.

X-ray radiation is known as ionising radiation. The dose of radiation involved is very low and is similar in strength to natural radiation that people are exposed to every day. The radiographer always ensures the radiation dose is kept as low as possible and that the benefits of a patient having the X-ray outweighs any risks.

Preparing for your general X-ray

There is no particular preparation required for most general X-rays. If preparation is required, you will be informed in advance. All other GP referrals require an appointment.

What should you wear?

We recommend that you wear comfortable clothes that you can easily change out of if necessary. We also advise that you wear a minimal amount of jewellery, as you may need to take it off.

What happens during a general X-ray?

Depending on your type of X-ray, you may be asked to remove jewellery or certain items of clothing. You will then be asked by the radiographer to move into different positions on the X-ray table for the imaging.

It may be slightly uncomfortable for you to hold the correct position and/or lie on the X-ray table while the image is produced. However, the procedure itself is painless and only takes a few moments.

What happens after a general X-ray?

In most cases, you will be able to leave the Radiology Department immediately.

Your images are then studied by a radiologist (a doctor who uses X-rays to diagnose and treat illnesses), and the results will be sent to the doctor who referred you.

You may already have an appointment with the doctor who referred you. If not, you may need to contact them to discuss the results and any potential treatment you may need.

If you are a hospital inpatient, the results will be available to the doctors looking after you on the ward.

Getting results

Results will be sent to the doctor that referred you. We send results to GPs within five to seven working days. Outpatients receive their results at their next outpatient appointment.

GP practices can avail of an electronic system to access their patients' results. Please contact info@healthlink.ie if your practice has interest in this system.