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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Happens During the Test?

You either stand or lie down while a technician takes the x-rays. He or she positions you against the photographic plate (which looks like a large board) to get the clearest pictures. A front view and a side view are usually taken.

For cervical spine x-rays, the technician tells you to open your mouth as wide as you can before taking some of the pictures; this is done to avoid having your teeth block the view of the bones at the top of your spine.

The technician leaves the room or stands behind a screen while controlling the x-ray camera. To avoid a blurred image, he or she tells you to remain as still as possible, including holding your breath, before taking each picture.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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