What are X-rays of the Elbow?
Elbow 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 elbow X-ray taken.
X-rays of the elbow 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 an elbow X-ray is to check for broken bones after an accident, but they are also used under many other circumstances.
Elbow 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 an Elbow X-Ray:
X-rays of the elbow are used for a multitude of reasons. A physician may order an elbow X-ray to check for certain cancers in different parts of the ankle by detecting abnormal tumors, growths or lumps.
An X-ray can be used to view the area of the elbow where a patient is experiencing pain, swelling, or other abnormalities. The elbow X-ray can then help a physician find a cause for those occuring problems.
Elbow X-rays can be used to diagnose a disease, monitor the progression of a disease, determine a treatment plan, and see the effect of a treatment plan.
Physicians use elbow X-rays to locate foreign objects in that area and to guide them in setting broken bones.
An Elbow X-Ray may help diagnose (find):
X-rays of the elbow are used to determine the cause of symptoms such as pain, tenderness, swelling or a deformity of the arm.
An elbow X-ray can detect infection, cysts, or tumors in the elbow.
An elbow X-ray can detect broken bones, assist a physician in setting the broken bone, and can monitor the treatment process to determine whether the bone is properly aligned and the break is healing properly.
Elbow X-rays are used in pre-surgical planning and are used post-surgery to assess the results of the surgery.
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 arm and elbow.
ABOVE: X-ray of fractured elbow.