X-ray is a series of pictures of the bones of the
skull. Skull X-rays have largely been replaced by
computed tomography (CT) scans.
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 skull X-ray may help find head injuries, bone
fractures, or abnormal growths or changes in bone
structure or size.
Why It Is Done
Skull X-rays have largely been
replaced by CT scans. A skull X-ray may be done to:
- Find fractures.
- Find a metallic
foreign object stuck in the skull.
- Check problems on a baby's head,
such as an odd shaped skull.
How To Prepare
Before the X-ray test, tell your
doctor if you are or might be pregnant. Pregnancy and the risk of radiation
exposure to your unborn baby (fetus) must be considered. The risk of
damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the potential benefits
of the test. If a skull X-ray is absolutely necessary, a lead apron will be
placed over your abdomen to shield your baby from exposure to the
Talk to your
doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks,
how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the
importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You don't need to do anything else before you have this
How It Is Done
A skull X-ray is taken by a radiology
technologist. The X-ray pictures are usually read by a doctor who specializes
in interpreting X-rays (radiologist).
You will need to remove any
jewelry that may be in the way of the X-ray picture. You will also need to
remove glasses or dentures.
You may be asked to lie on an X-ray
table or sit in a chair. The bones of the skull and face are so detailed that
several views from different angles are needed. A series of X-ray pictures is
usually taken from the front, back, top, and sides of your head. You should
hold your head completely still while the pictures are being taken. A padded
brace, foam pads, a headband, or sandbags may be used to hold your head in
place while the pictures are taken.
Skull X-rays usually take
about 10 to 20 minutes. You will wait about 5 minutes until the X-rays are
processed in case repeat pictures need to be taken. In some clinics and
hospitals, X-ray pictures can be shown immediately on a computer screen