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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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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.