What is an extremity X-ray?

An extremity x-ray is a picture of the internal structures in one of your extremities -- your hand, wrist, arm, hip, leg, knee, ankle or foot. X-rays are a type of radiation. In an x-ray procedure, a machine sends x-ray radiation through the body or head to create pictures of internal structures projected onto a computer screen or onto film. In those pictures dense structures, such as bones, show up white because they absorb the x-ray particles, while less-dense structures, such as muscles, show up gray or black. Your doctor may order an extremity x-ray if he or she suspects you are experiencing any of the following problems:
  • a fracture in a bone of one of your extremities
  • fluid buildup in the joint around a bone
  • dislocation of a bone
  • infection
  • arthritis
  • abnormal bone growth or tumor
If you have had joint surgery, your doctor may order an extremity x-ray to monitor your progress after the surgery.

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