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How to prepare for an X-ray


Sarah Vincent and Veronique Hache-Wilczak are third year students at the Saint John School of Radiological Technology at Horizon's Saint John Regional Hospital

Having an X-ray is often surrounded by mystery, even for those who may have been through it before.

You may be asked to remove certain clothing items, or be given some unusual instructions before, during and after an X-ray.

As student medical radiation technologists (MRT), we want to help solve the mystery by outlining general tips for patients who are about to undergo an X-ray examination. 

These tips will help you and your MRT optimize the quality of your radiographic images, to help ensure a proper diagnosis. We want you to receive the best X-ray exam possible!

General X-ray Tips

These tips apply when you receive a routine X-ray examination of hands, feet, arms, legs, abdomen, chest, and/or skull.

  • Leave personal belongings at home, whenever possible.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that does not contain metal (i.e. buttons or zippers). Metal objects show up very prominently on X-rays, often interfering with the visibility of anatomical structures and pathological conditions.


  • If your clothing contains metal, you may be asked to remove it and put on a Johnny shirt and robe.
  • Partial plates, hearing aids, glasses, necklaces, piercings or rings should be removed.
  • Advise your MRT if you have an insulin pump or a glucose monitoring device. X-ray exposure may affect how they work.

General CT Scan (Computed Tomography) Tips

A CT scanner has a patient support couch (think table!) that travels slowly through a donut shaped scanning device; it's reasonably large and open.

However, if claustrophobia is an issue for you, it may be beneficial to do some research online before hand. You can find information on our website or on the Canadian Cancer Society website.

  • Arrive to your appointment early.
  • Follow any pre-exam preparation instructions given to you by your health care provider. If for any reason you were unable to follow the instructions, please notify your MRT before the exam. 
  • If you are receiving an IV (intravenous) contrast injection for the exam, you should come to the CT imaging department well hydrated. This will decrease the likelihood of having any adverse reactions to contrast media (x-ray dye) and can make your veins much easier to find.
  • If you have had any previous allergies to contrast media while having a CT or radiological procedure, please notify the MRT attending to your care.

General Mammography Tips

Mammography is a non-invasive procedure. However, having a mammogram may make you feel anxious. Your MRT is there to guide you through the procedure.

  • Do not wear antiperspirant, deodorant, lotion or body powder under your arms or near your chest area on the day of your mammogram. Some of these products may contain aluminum (metallic) particles which could possibly interfere with the radiographic images.
  • Leave jewelry at home or take it off before the exam.
  • Take an ibuprofen (i.e. Advil, Motrin) about an hour before your mammogram to help with discomfort. 
  • And for any diagnostic imaging procedure, it's important to take deep breaths and try to relax. Your MRT is there to help.

Following these instructions will help us to better help you, which after all, is the most important part of our profession!

The Moncton Hospital School of Radiologic Technology and Saint John School of Radiological Technology partner with the University of New Brunswick Saint John (UNBSJ) to deliver a 4-year Bachelor of Health Sciences in Radiography. Graduates of the program become a radiological (X-ray) technologists.


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