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Why Might I Need an X-Ray?

Why Might I Need an X-Ray?

At American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California, our skilled team provides prompt medical care for pressing health issues every day of the week. But we couldn’t deliver the comprehensive, high-quality care we’re known for without a full scope of in-house diagnostic imaging services, including digital X-rays

When you arrive at our walk-in clinic with specific injuries or symptoms, X-rays can give our team a glimpse at relevant structures inside your body so we can make a quick and accurate diagnosis. Here’s when we might recommend X-rays as part of your evaluation. 

Diagnostic X-ray imaging: A brief tutorial 

An X-ray is a quick and painless diagnostic test that uses low-dose radiation — also known as electromagnetic energy — to produce images of the tissues and structures inside your body. Because it travels at a higher frequency than the wavelengths of visible light, electromagnetic energy can pass through most objects, including your body.

To create X-ray images (digital radiographs), we position the area of your body we want to visualize internally between an X-ray source and an X-ray detector. When we activate the X-ray system, its energy passes into the selected body area, where it’s absorbed to varying degrees by different types of tissues.

Because dense bone tissue absorbs electromagnetic energy the most, bones produce a high contrast image that appears white on a digital radiograph. Fat, muscle, and other soft tissues absorb less energy, so they produce lower contrast imaging that shows up as various shades of gray. The air in your lungs appears black.

When your medical evaluation requires X-rays

Fast, easy, and informative, X-rays are the go-to diagnostic tool in several common urgent care situations. Our team uses X-ray imaging to learn why you’re experiencing musculoskeletal pain, digestive discomfort, or respiratory difficulties.

Let’s take a closer look at when we might recommend X-ray testing:

Possible bone fracture

Most people associate X-ray imaging with bone fracture evaluation, and for good reason — acute joint and musculoskeletal injuries are the most frequent reason for X-ray testing in an urgent care setting. You may need an X-ray if you arrive at our walk-in clinic with signs of a broken bone in an injured joint or limb, such as:

X-ray imaging shows bone problems clearly enough that no further imaging is required. We can use it to diagnose bone fractures and infections and assess obvious joint dislocations. Checking for bone trauma also helps us rule out a severe joint sprain when a visual exam isn’t conclusive.

Acute abdominal pain 

We can also use digital X-rays to assess conditions or problems affecting your abdominal organs, including your stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, kidneys, and bladder. Abdominal X-ray imaging is often one of the first tests used to help evaluate and diagnose:

If your child has ingested a small foreign object like a coin, we can use X-ray imaging to verify its location and assess the likelihood of it passing without incident or causing damage.

Before we take X-rays to evaluate a suspected digestive tract problem, we may ask you to drink a contrast agent (barium) to help enhance the details on the radiographs.

Suspected lung infection 

A chest X-ray shows your lungs, heart, and chest wall. It’s often the quickest way to reach an accurate diagnosis when you arrive at our office with signs of a lower respiratory infection, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Symptoms that may call for a chest X-ray include:

We can also use X-ray imaging to evaluate a traumatic, non-life-threatening chest injury, including broken ribs, that may require prompt acute care. This includes accidental fall and sports injuries that cause chest pain or make it hard to take a deep breath.

Quality urgent care every day of the week

In need of an X-ray? Our expert team at American River Urgent Care can help. Stop by our walk-in clinic in Orangevale, California, today — we’re open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm every weekday, and from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekends. You can also call our office or click online to book an appointment at your convenience any time. 

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