What is an x-ray?
An x-ray is a widely used test which creates an image of the inside of the body, much like a photograph. It is very quick. It's often the first point of investigation to help the doctor decide if any other forms of imaging or tests are needed.
Depending on the type of examination you are having, you may need to prepare beforehand. Your letter will give you all of the information you need which is specific to the test you are having. Please make sure you read the information in your letter carefully before you come to hospital.
Where to find us
We have x-ray imaging facilities at all of our hospital sites. If you have a GP referral, please attend either Guy's Hospital or St Thomas' Hospital. X-ray imaging for children under 18 years old also takes place in Evelina London Children's Hospital.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. You do not need an appointment, but try to avoid coming between 12 noon and 2pm, as this is our busiest time.
Having an x-ray
Are there any risks?
X-rays are a type of radiation known as ionising radiation. The dose of radiation used is very low and is similar in strength to other sources of natural radiation that people are exposed to every day, without even realising. The radiographer will ensure the dose is kept as low as possible and that the benefits of having the x-ray outweigh any risks.
Giving your consent
The radiographer will ask you if you are happy for the examination to go ahead. This is called verbal consent and may only involve the radiographer checking you are booked for the correct examination. If you do not wish to have the examination or are undecided, please tell the radiographer.
It is your decision and you can change your mind at any time. Please bear in mind that not having the examination may delay your diagnosis as the doctors may not have all of the information that they need. You can ask the radiographer any questions you have at any time before, during or after your examination.
If you would like to read our consent policy, please ask a member of staff.
What happens during the x-ray?
There are different types of x-ray. Depending on your x-ray, you may be asked to remove jewellery and/or certain items of clothing. The radiographer will ask you to move into different positions either standing, sitting or on the x-ray table to take the x-ray.
Some people might find it uncomfortable holding the correct position and/or lying on the x-ray table while the scan is carried out, but the procedure itself is painless.
What happens after the x-ray?
In most cases, you will be allowed to go straight home, or back to the ward if you are an inpatient.
The images will be studied by a radiologist (doctor who uses x-rays to diagnose and treat illnesses) and the results will be sent to the doctor who referred you.
You may already have an appointment with the doctor who referred you. If not, please arrange one to discuss the results and any treatment you may need.
If you are an inpatient, the results will be given to the doctors looking after you on the ward.
X-ray patient information leaflet