X-ray - skeleton
The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider’s office by an x-ray technologist. The bone to be x-rayed is positioned on the table. Or, the patient may stand in different positions depending on the x-ray being taken. The pictures are then taken. The bone may be repositioned for different views.
Normally, an x-ray focuses on a particular area of concern, but with a skeletal survey, all areas are imaged.
Tell the health care provider if you are pregnant. You must remove all jewelry.
The x-rays themselves are painless. However, repositioning the bones may be uncomfortable. If the entire body is being evaluated, the test usually takes an hour or more.
A skeletal survey x-ray is used to detect fractures, metastasis (cancer that has spread to other areas of the body), osteomyelitis, after a trauma (such as an auto accident), or in degenerative conditions of the bone. It is often used in children suspected of being abused.
Abnormal findings include fractures, bone tumors, degenerative bone conditions, and osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone caused by an infection).
There is low radiation exposure. X-rays machines are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits.
Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the x-ray. A protective shield may be worn over areas not being scanned.
Reviewed By: Stuart Bentley-Hibbert, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Radiology, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.