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Facial X-Ray

A facial X-ray is a series of pictures of the bones in the face camera.gif. One type of facial X-ray (called a paranasal sinus X-ray series) looks at the air-filled cavities (sinuses) around the nose and eyes.

X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that are focused into a beam, much like a flashlight beam. X-rays can pass through most objects, including the human body. X-rays make a picture by striking a detector that either exposes a film or sends the picture to a computer. Dense tissues in the body, such as bones, block (absorb) many of the X-rays and look 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 look like shades of gray on an X-ray. X-rays that pass only through air, such as through the lungs, look black on the picture.

A facial X-ray helps find bone fractures, tumors, foreign objects, infections, and abnormal growths or changes in bone structure or size. An X-ray of the eye (orbital cavity) may be taken if the eye has been injured. A computed tomography (CT) scan may be needed to check any problems seen on X-ray.

Why It Is Done

A facial or sinus X-ray may be done to:

  • Find problems of the sinuses of the face and nose, such as sinusitis or abnormal growths (polyps or tumors).
  • Find fractures of the facial bones and nose.
  • Check the bones around the eye (orbital cavity).
  • Check the sinuses before surgery.
  • Check for metal objects around the eyes before a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.
  • Look for the cause of pain in the face.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
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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