What is a general X-ray (or plain film?)

An x-ray is the most commonly performed investigation for assessing injured limbs or examining the chest for possible infection. An x-ray image, or radiograph, is produced when a very small amount of radiation passes through the body and strikes a sheet of sensitive film or a detector placed on the other side of the body. The ability of x-rays to penetrate tissues and bones varies according to the composition and mass of what is being imaged. Bone, which contains calcium, absorbs most of the radiation and results in white images on the x-ray film. The lungs, which are filled with air, allow nearly all x-rays to pass through and strike the film or detector resulting in a black image. You will feel no discomfort during the procedure.


There is no special preparation required for most x-rays. Upon arrival you may be asked by the radiographer to change into a gown before your examination. You may also be asked to remove jewellery, eyeglasses, and any metal objects that may obscure the x-rays. You will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation when you receive an x-ray. At Envision, we use advanced digital x-ray equipment to ensure you are exposed to the minimum amount of radiation needed to obtain adequate images. If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be, you should tell your doctor or radiographer before the test is performed, as special precautions may have to be taken. Please bring any previous x-rays with you on the day of your examination.

Who will perform the examination?

The examination will be performed by a trained medical technician, called a radiographer.  Radiographers are tertiary qualified technicians who specialize in the taking of x-rays and other diagnostic medical images.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects from general x-rays are incredibly rare.  During your examination, you will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation.  The benefits of detecting disease are believed to far outweigh any potential risks from receiving such a small dose.  Envision have rigorous protocols to ensure that the radiation dose given is the lowest possible dose to produce the diagnostic quality images.

How long will the examination take?

General x-rays are typically very simple procedures and most examinations would be completed within 10-15 minutes.  In most cases you do not have to make an appointment to have a general x-ray but depending on how busy the clinic is, you may have to wait a bit before having your examination.

When is the best time to have the examination?

As there is little to no preparation required for general x-rays, they can be performed at any time during normal clinic hours.