How It Feels
You will feel no discomfort from the
X-rays. The X-ray table may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may find
that the positions you need to hold are uncomfortable or painful, especially if
you have an injury.
There is always a slight risk of damage to
cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels
of radiation used for this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is
usually very low compared with the potential benefits of the test.
For example, the radiation exposure
from a chest X-ray is about equal to the natural radiation exposure received
during a round-trip airline flight from Boston to Los Angeles (Montreal to
Vancouver) or 10 days in the Rocky Mountains (Denver, Colorado).
A skull X-ray is a series of pictures of
the bones of the skull. In an emergency, the doctor can see the initial results
of a skull X-ray in a few minutes. Otherwise, a
radiologist usually has the official X-ray report
ready the next day.
The bones of the skull are
normal in size and appearance.
No foreign objects, abnormal
growths, or bone abnormalities are present.
No broken bones are
Foreign objects, such as
fragments of metal or glass, may be present.
Abnormal growths, such as
tumors, may be present.
Broken bones may be
Signs of a disease that
affects the bones of the skull may be present.
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. The
pictures may not be clear.
- If you have a possible neck injury. In
this case, it may not be possible to do a complete set of skull
- If you have a false eye (prosthetic eye) or other
artificial or metal objects on the head. These can make a shadow on the X-ray
picture that hides part of the bones.
What To Think About
computed tomography (CT) scan may be done instead of a
skull X-ray. A CT scan shows more detail than an X-ray does. It may show tiny fractures better than an X-ray and can also show injuries to the brain and other tissues. CT scans are more expensive than skull X-rays and may not be
available in some areas. To learn more, see the topic
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Head and Face.
- 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.
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.