Pediatric XRayAt UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help. 

Fast Facts About the Pediatric X-ray

  • An X-ray is a picture of the inside of your child’s body.
  • Your child will be awake at all times.
  • He or she can resume normal activities afterward.

What Is An X-ray?

An X-ray is a picture taken of the bones and organs inside of your child’s body.

  • X-rays do not hurt.
  • X-rays give doctors important information about certain areas inside your child’s body that they cannot learn from a physical examination.
  • Sometimes more than one X-ray will need to be taken.
  • The length of time needed to do each X-ray varies depending on the kind of X-ray that has been ordered for your child.

Home Preparation

  • No special preparation is needed.
  • Eat and drink as usual before the test, unless you are given special instructions by your child’s doctor or the Department of Pediatric Radiology staff.

The Test

X-rays are done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of Children’s Hospital. In the room will be an X-ray technologist who is experienced in taking X-rays on children. You will see an X-ray machine connected to the ceiling, a long table, and an X-ray machine connected to the wall. You might explain to your child that the X-ray machine is a large camera for taking pictures of inside his or her body. If your child has any questions, the X-ray technologist will be happy to answer them before the test.

  • Your child will be awake during this test.
  • You and your child will be called for the test and asked some screening questions by the X-ray technologist.
  • Your child may be asked to remove any jewelry he or she might have on and give it to you.
  • Your child may be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • The X-ray picture will be taken by a large camera that uses radiation to take pictures inside the body.
  • Your child will be asked to sit, stand or lie very still while the X-ray picture is being taken.

As a parent, you may have concerns about radiation exposure. Children’s takes every precaution to make sure your child is safe.

  • Our goal is to do the test correctly and thoroughly, while exposing your child to the smallest amount of radiation necessary to take the X-ray.
  • Advances in equipment and film have lowered the amount of radiation your child will receive.
  • All of the equipment is inspected regularly.
  • Parts of the body that are not being X-rayed will be protected with a lead cover or apron when possible.

A Parent’s/Guardian’s Role During the Test

We welcome your help and support during this test. Parents or guardians are invited to join your child in the examination room. Other children can wait in the waiting room, or the Lemieux Sibling Center if siblings are ages 3 to 12 who are toilet trained.

  • This test involves the use of radiation. Women who are pregnant or believe they may be pregnant should limit exposure to X-rays. In this case, please bring another adult who can stay with your child during the test.

The X-ray technologist will show you where to stand in the exam room during the test. Please follow the instructions of the medical staff performing the X-ray.

  • The most important role of a parent and guardian during the test is to help your child stay calm and relaxed. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
  • It is important that your child stays still while the X-ray pictures are being taken.
  • Please do not distract the medical team or interrupt the test in any way.
  • We welcome your questions, but please ask them either before or after the test.

After the Test

When the X-ray technologist has taken all the X-rays needed, the test is done.

  • If any additional X-rays are necessary, the X-ray technologist will explain.
  • A report of your child’s X-ray will be sent to the doctor who ordered it, usually within 48 hours. If the results are urgent, the referring doctor will be contacted immediately.
  • Please contact the doctor who ordered the X-ray for the results.
  • No special follow-up care for your child is necessary.

Special Needs and Patient Preparation

If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.

Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the test, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain tests to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child, or feel your child will have difficulty during the test, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s and ask to speak with the Child Life Specialist.

Preparation Booklet for Patient (Social Story)