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 chance of damage to
cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for
this test. But the chance 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).
X-ray takes a picture of structures and
organs in the belly (abdomen). This includes the
stomach, liver, spleen, large and small intestines, and the diaphragm, which is
the muscle that separates the chest and belly areas. In an emergency, the
results of an abdominal X-ray are ready in a few minutes. Otherwise, a
radiologist usually has the official X-ray report
ready the next day.
The pictures made by the
X-rays show that the stomach, small and large bowel, liver, spleen, kidneys,
and bladder are normal in size, shape, and location.
No growths, abnormal amounts
of fluid (ascites), or foreign objects are seen. Normal amounts
of air and fluid are seen in the intestines. Normal amounts of stool are seen
in the large intestine.
A blocked intestine may be
seen because a portion of the intestine is larger than usual or areas in the
intestine have abnormal amounts of air or fluid in them.
A collection of air inside the
belly cavity but outside the intestines (caused by a hole in the stomach or
intestines) may be seen.
The walls of the intestines
may look abnormal or thick.
The size, shape, or location of the bladder or kidneys
may be abnormal. Kidney stones may be seen in the kidney, ureters, bladder, or
In some cases,
gallstones can be seen on an abdominal X-ray.
Abnormal growths, such as
large tumors, or ascites may be seen.
A foreign object is seen or a
medical device looks abnormal or out of position.