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X-ray imaging

An X-ray is a safe and quick procedure to produce images of the inside of your body.

Orthopaedic surgeon looking at x-ray imaging after hand surgery
An X-ray is an imaging technique used to look inside your body at your bones and soft tissues. It's a quick, painless procedure that's very safe. It is used for a wide variety of reasons and can help us to examine various different parts of your body.

X-rays are one of the most effective ways to examine bones. They can identify abnormalities and damage to bones in any area of your body. X-rays can also be used to look at your soft tissues, for example, your lungs, heart or breasts.

An X-ray is usually performed by a radiographer, who is specially trained to carry out this and other imaging techniques. Other healthcare professionals perform X-rays too, for example, dentists frequently use them to examine teeth.

The picture produced by an X-ray shows your bones in white, while softer areas such as your organs will appear darker.

The radiation used during X-rays is very small and you will be exposed for less than a second.

X-rays can show all sorts of things that can't be seen from outside your body. The most obvious example is a broken bone, but X-rays can also identify shadows on your lungs, breast abnormalities and heart problems. They can be used to check for medical conditions such as curvature of the spine (scoliosis), bone tumours or even certain digestive issues.

An X-ray is one of the most common diagnostic tests used in medicine. Here at Circle Health Group we perform thousands of X-rays each year in our onsite imaging departments, which are run by dedicated and specially trained teams.

Other tests our radiographers commonly perform include computerised tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning.

The cost of an X-ray at Circle Health Group is different for every person

It will depend on various factors including which part of your body is being scanned and how many images your radiographer needs to produce.

Before you have an X-ray, we will let you know exactly how much it will cost and how to pay.

If you have private health insurance, an X-ray will usually be covered by your policy. We work with all major providers.

This imaging technique is named after a type of radiation – X-rays – that are passed through your body. As the rays move through your body, you won't feel anything and you won't be able to see them. But the X-ray equipment features a detector that picks them up after they've passed through you.

The rays pass through you in different ways depending on which part of your body they go through. When the detector picks them up on the other side, it can tell how soft or dense the parts of your body are based on how the rays have reacted.

The X-ray system then translates this information into a picture, with denser areas (such as bone) in white and softer areas (for example your heart or lungs) shown as darker areas.

X-ray examinations can be used on most areas of the body and can help to identify various problems. Some of the most common types of X-rays are:

Bones and joints X-ray

An X-ray is one of the best ways of examining your bones and joints. They can be used to check everything from congenital abnormalities to osteoporosis to fractures and breaks.

Dental X-ray

You might have your teeth and jaw X-rayed to identify a variety of issues including loose teeth, problem wisdom teeth or dental abscesses.

Chest X-ray

An X-ray can be used to look inside your chest and see how well your heart and lungs are functioning. You might be recommended this if you are having symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pains.

Breast X-ray

This can be used to look for abnormalities and tumours in your breasts and can identify conditions including breast cancer.

Contrast X-ray

Sometimes you will be given something called a contrast agent before you have your X-ray, which can make your soft tissues show more clearly in the images produced.

Your consultant or radiographer will tell you whether you need to do anything ahead of your X-ray to prepare. Normally it won't be much just taking off your jewellery or clothes containing metal, and perhaps changing into a hospital gown. If you wear loose clothing to your appointment, you can often keep wearing this.

They will also ask you a few questions to check that it's safe for you to have an X-ray. For example, you won't usually be able to have the scan if you are pregnant.

During the scan, we will ask you to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface so that the part of your body being examined is between the two main elements of the X-ray system (the machine emitting the rays and the part that creates the images).

The X-ray will then scan you, during which time you'll need to stay as still as possible so that the images are as accurate as possible. The radiographer will be behind a screen or in the next room, and you'll be able to talk to them at all times.

Depending on what type of X-ray you are having and why the process can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour.

The results will then be sent to a consultant radiologist who will interpret the findings and report back to your consultant.

There are no side effects after an X-ray, though some people who are given contrast agents will have a mild reaction to them (normally a bit of an upset tummy).

Results will usually be sent to the doctor who referred you within two days of your X-ray.

An X-ray is something that will be recommended by your consultant, at which point our team will arrange an appointment for you.

If you think you may need an X-ray and you aren't speaking to one of our consultants yet, book an initial consultation using our online booking portal. If you need an X-ray, they will arrange it for you.

At Circle Health Group, there are three ways you can pay for treatment. You can use your private health insurance, you can pay for yourself in full, or you can use our flexible payment options to spread the cost.

If you have private medical insurance, speak to your insurer about how to get a referral to one of our hospitals. We work with all major health insurance providers.

If you are paying for your own treatment and would like to spread the cost to make it more affordable, we work with Chrysalis Finance to offer loans that can be paid back over a period of one to five years.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:   

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs  
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard 
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end  
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included  
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you think you might need an X-ray and want to talk to a consultant about this, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in July 2022. Next review due July 2025.