Urology Care Foundation The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

Urology Care Foundation The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

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Get the facts. And the help you need.

X-ray

An X-ray is a form of radiation, which is generated by special machines that permit imaging of internal body structures. Structures that are dense like bones appear white on the film and structures that contain air appear black. Muscle, fat and fluid will appear as various shades of gray. Since soft tissues, such as the kidneys, ureters, and bladder are not readily seen with x-ray, visualization is accomplished through the use of contrast agents which are injected directly into the organ or administered intravenously prior to or during imaging.

The test is performed in a radiology or urology department or in a health care provider's office by a technician under a physician's supervision. Depending on the type of test, the patient may be asked to stand, lie down, sit or any combination of the three. In some instances, a lead shielding device may also be used to partially cover the patient. This device can absorb some X-rays and shield areas of the body that are not be imaged. The patient may also be asked to remain still and to hold their breath for a few moments at different stages of the test.

Most simple X-rays take only a few minutes. However, more complex testing can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours.

A patient who is pregnant or may be pregnant should advise their physician prior to this test, as a fetus is susceptible to the risks of X-ray radiation.

Reviewed January 2011

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X-ray Glossary
  • bladder: The bladder is a thick muscular balloon-shaped pouch in which urine is stored before being discharged through the urethra.

  • fetus: An unborn offspring from the end of the eighth week of conception until birth.

  • gene: The basic unit capable of transmitting characteristics from one generation to the next.

  • intravenous: Also referred to as IV. Existing or occurring inside a vein.

  • intravenously: Injected into the vein.

  • kidney: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • kidneys: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • radiation: Also referred to as radiotherapy. X-rays or radioactive substances used in treatment of cancer.

  • stage: Classification of the progress of a disease.

  • tissue: Group of cells in an organism that are similar in form and function.

  • ureter: One of two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • ureters: Pair of tubes that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder.

  • ureters: Tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • urology: Branch of medicine concerned with the urinary tract in males and females and with the genital tract and reproductive system of males.

  • vas: Also referred to as vas deferens. The cordlike structure that carries sperm from the testicle to the urethra.

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