Foot X-Ray Exam: What To Expect


An X-ray procedure for examining your foot is a safe and painless test to see if there are any problems with your foot. This is considered a minor medical procedure, and all you really have to do is show up and have your foot – or feet – exposed to the X-ray machine. In a few hours or days, your X-ray should be available for your doctor’s viewing, and the X-ray scan can help him or her diagnose what’s happening to your feet. Even better, it can help diagnose incoming problems, which can prevent more serious conditions from happening to your feet.


How it works

X-rays are wavelengths of light that can go through soft tissue and bone, and the degrees of transparency can be recorded a special kind of photographic film or computer scanner. In this way, a doctor can see inside your foot. Very dense material, such as your bones, would normally appear white, as the photographic paper or scanner will not be developed by the X-rays. This is because the X-rays have been absorbed by your bone matter. Your soft tissue, on the other hand, is less dense, and you will be able to see outlines in shades of grey. Doctors are usually assisted by X-ray specialists when it comes to interpreting X-ray scans.

The actual procedure itself will only take about 15 minutes, but the act of exposing the film or scanner will only take a second or so. You will be required to remove all metallic objects from the foot area, such as ankle bracelets and the like. You should also inform your doctor and the X-ray team if you have metallic implants near or in your foot.

Why do they do it?

A foot X-ray procedure can help in finding the causes for joint pain, pinched nerves, or even hairline fractures, aside from the obvious broken bones and dislocated joints. In cases where broken bones have been set, an X-ray scan can determine if the bones have been properly aligned. Later on, another X-ray scan can find out if they have healed properly.

If special dye is used, a doctor will also be able to see if there are any circulation blockages in the foot, which can be important for people with certain disorders, like diabetes.

Finally, X-ray scans are also required before surgery, so that the surgical team can properly plan how they will operate on the foot, be it for reconstruction, removal of tumors, or treating late-stage infections of the bones themselves.

Are there any issues with using X-rays?

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For safety purposes, pregnant women and children are usually not allowed to have X-rays unless very necessary. For other people, there is no impediment. All you will be required to do, as mentioned before, is to remove all jewelry and metal from your body, or at least the area that will be X-rayed. Some people have reported a slightly uncomfortable feeling when the X-ray is on, but this may be psychological in nature, since the actual exposure takes only a second at most.