Radiation exposure

As the technology to deliver X-ray examinations has improved over the years, the doses of radiation that patients receive has decreased dramatically. Modern x-ray systems have controlled x-ray beams and methods to control doses which minimizes 'stray' radiation. This means that other parts of your body receive minimal radiation exposure. Today, thanks to improved technology, the risks of an x-ray exam is very low compared to the radiation we receive everyday, for example, from the sun in the form of UV rays. 

Special care is taken during x-ray examinations to use the lowest dose of radiation possible while producing the best images. National and international radiology protection organizations continually review and update the techniques used by radiology professionals. More information on x-ray examination doses can be found at the Image Wisely (adult X-ray) and Image Gently (pediatric X-ray) websites. 

When prescribing an x-ray, your doctor will weigh the risk of having the exam versus the benefits to you. In modern digital x-ray exams, the benefits generally far outweigh the risks as you can see below.


  • X-rays are the fastest and easiest way for a doctor to view and assess bone injuries, including fractures and joint abnormalities such as arthritis.
  • X-ray equipment is relatively inexpensive and widely available in emergency rooms, doctors offices and other locations, making it convenient for both patients and doctors.
  • Because x-ray imaging is fast and easy, it is particularly useful in emergency diagnosis and treatment.
  • No radiation remains in your body after an x-ray examination. X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam.


  • If you receive excessive exposure to radiation there is an increased risk of cancer. However, the amount of radiation required to increase your risks is high. 
  • The effective radiation dose for procedures vary. See the Safety page here  for more information about radiation doses.
  • Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. See our pregnancy and various tests page for more information.