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Extremity X-Ray

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • If you can't remain still during the test. This may cause the pictures to be blurry.
  • If you are very overweight. This can make it hard to see details in some types of X-ray pictures.
  • If you are pregnant and need an X-ray of a leg in the area close to the pelvis.

What To Think About

  • Your X-ray results may be different from earlier test results because you were tested at a different medical center or you had a different kind of test.
  • Extremity X-rays do not give a clear picture of soft tissue, such as cartilage, tendons, or ligaments. A computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be needed to check the condition of these soft tissues.
  • Fractures or other bone problems are not always seen on an X-ray. In these cases, other tests such as a bone scan, CT scan, or MRI may be needed to give a clearer picture. To learn more, see the topic Bone Scan.
  • Not all injuries to the arms or legs need X-rays. An X-ray may not be done if the doctor believes that the results would not change or affect the treatment and follow-up care.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Current as of April 24, 2012
1 | 2 | 3 | 4

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 24, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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