What are X-rays of the Shoulder?
Shoulder X-rays are a common imaging test that uses small amounts of high-energy electromagnetic radiation to produce images for doctors to view the inside of the body. The level of exposure is considered safe for adults. It is not considered safe for a developing fetus so it is very important that a pregnant patient informs a physician of their pregnancy before having an X-ray taken.
Shoulder X-rays pass through skin and soft tissue mostly, but do not pass through bone or metal easily. As different tissues in the body absorb different amounts of radiation, the images will show different shades of black and white.
One of the most common uses of a shoulder X-ray is to check for broken bones after an accident, but they are also used under many other circumstances.
Shoulder X-rays are used to identify, diagnose, and treat many types of medical conditions. It is a key element and often times the first to be done in the diagnosis process.
Reasons for a Shoulder X-Ray:
Shoulder X-rays are used for a multitude of reasons. A physician may order an X-ray to check for certain cancers in different parts of the shoulder by detecting abnormal tumors, growths or lumps.
A shoulder X-ray is used to view the area of the body where a patient is experiencing pain, swelling, or other abnormalities that require an internal view of the organs. The X-ray can help a physician find a cause for the problems occurring.
Shoulder X-rays can be used to diagnose a disease, monitor the progression of the disease, determine a treatment plan, and see the effect of a treatment plan.
Physicians use X-rays to locate foreign objects within the shoulder and to guide them in setting broken bones.
A Shoulder X-Ray may help diagnose (find):
An X-ray of the shoulder can show a shoulder dislocation.
Shoulder X-rays can show joint spacing and the narrowing of the space between the bones. This can be a sign of arthritis.
An X-ray of the shoulder is often taken to determine if there are fractures or breaks in the bone.
Bone spurs or bony overgrowths at the joint can also be detected by taking an X-ray of the shoulder.
credit: Noah D. Weiss MD, Weiss Orthopaedics
ABOVE: This animation is actually a series of x-rays that have been put together to form a simulated motion. Doctors and Radiologists do not view x-rays in this manner. You should not expect to view your x-rays like this.
ABOVE: X-ray of shoulder with Nill Sachs deformity.
ABOVE: X-ray of shoulder with dislocated clavicle.