What is a skull X-ray?

A skull x-ray is a series of pictures of the bones that surround the brain, including the facial bones, the nose and the sinuses. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation. In an x-ray procedure, a machine sends x-ray radiation through the body or head to create pictures on a computer screen or on film. In those pictures, dense structures such as bones, show up white because they absorb the x-ray particles, while less dense body parts may show up gray or black.

Your doctor may order a skull x-ray if you have injured your head or if you have certain symptoms that might indicate a problem inside your head, such as bleeding or a tumor. In children, skull x-rays are commonly used to evaluate children who have an unusually shaped skull. A skull x-ray may also help diagnose misalignment (malocclusion) of teeth, occupational hearing loss, chronic ear pain or infection, hearing loss due to abnormal bone growth inside the ear, sinusitis or pituitary tumors.

Many doctors prefer to use a CT (computed tomography) scan of the skull to diagnose the cause of symptoms in the skull. Sometimes the two imaging tests may be used together to help ensure a correct diagnosis.

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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.