Pediatric X-Ray: About Your Child's Test

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What is it?

An X-ray is a picture of the inside of your child's body. Depending on the part of his or her body to be X-rayed, it may show bones, organs, foreign objects, or pockets of air or fluid. Any part of the body can be X-rayed, including the head, chest, belly, arms, and legs.

Why is this test done?

Doctors use X-rays to help find out what's wrong or whether there is a problem, what is causing pain, or where a foreign object may be located in your child's body.

X-rays can also help check the position of a tube or device that has been put in your child's body. Examples may include a gastrostomy tube or a port.

How do you prepare for the test?

  • Reassure your child that the X-ray doesn't hurt and that it will be over quickly.
  • Tell your child what to expect. The X-ray room will have unfamiliar devices in it, and it may be cold. Reassure your child that you will be close by at all times.
  • Many children are curious about what their "insides" look like. Others find the test scary. You can help take the mystery out of the test by asking your doctor or X-ray technician if your child can look at the X-ray when it's done.

How is the test done?

  • Your child will need to hold very still while the X-ray is taken. A padded brace, foam pads, a headband, or sandbags may be used to hold your child's body in place, depending on what part of the body is being X-rayed.
  • More than one X-ray view may be taken.

How long does the test take?

  • The test will take about 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the part of your child's body being X-rayed. You might be asked to stay longer if a picture needs to be retaken.

What happens after the test?

  • Your child will probably be able to go home right away. It depends on the reason for the test.
  • Your child can go back to his or her usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines your child takes. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.