An x-ray is a painless test in which an image is created of part of the body by using electromagnetic radiation that are reflected on film paper or fluorescent screens.
X-rays can be used to diagnose a wide range of conditions, from bronchitis to a broken arm. When viewing x-ray images of the heart, physicians can evaluate the size, activity and function of the heart's chambers and vessels, as well as surrounding organs such as the lungs. Depending upon a physician's evaluation of an x-ray image, further tests may be ordered.
X-ray images may be taken with no preparation, or in some cases, the physician might use special dye called a contrast medium. This dye appears on the x-ray image and is helpful to highlight certain structures and conditions within the body. If contrast medium is going to be used, changes may be made in the patient's diet or medication schedule. Women who are pregnant or think they might be are urged to either avoid x-rays or to wear a protective lead apron over their abdominal area.