What is Hand X-Ray?
A hand X-ray is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of pain and discomfort in the hand in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the bones and soft tissues of the hand are generated. Generally, the images of the hand are taken in three different positions—one from the back with the palm facing down (posteroanterior or PA view), one at an angle (oblique view or ball-catcher view), and one from the side (lateral view).
The hand X-ray helps doctors in detecting inflammatory conditions, tumors, and injuries; and evaluating other abnormalities in the hand.
In some cases, the hand X-ray is done with the use of contrast material (dye) that is injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the bones in the hand are seen more clearly in the X-ray images. This is called arthrography.
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Who Should Get a Hand X-Ray?
Your doctor may recommend a hand X-ray if you have:
- Experienced an acute trauma or injury to your fingers, hand, or wrist.
- Continuing pain, weakness, swelling, stiffness, numbness, or tingling in your fingers, hand, or wrist.
- A suspected fracture.
- A suspected dislocated joint.
What is the Purpose of a Hand X-Ray?
A hand X-ray will help your doctor to:
- Find the cause of common signs or symptoms such as pain, tenderness, swelling, and deformity in the hand.
- Detect broken bones (fractures) or dislocated joints.
- Detect cysts, tumors, and other diseases in the bones.
- Assess for suspected osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone caused by an infection)
- Locate and understand injuries or degenerative diseases that affect one or both hands such as:
- Osteoarthrosis (flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down)
- Rheumatoid arthritis (painful swelling in the joints of the hands)
- Monitor the growth of bone in the hands because if you have a metabolic disorder or a nutritional deficiency, your bones may not grow properly.
- Plan for hand surgery and to assess the results of the operation.
- Determine whether a bone is in proper alignment and if it has healed completely after a broken bone has been set.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Vitamin D 25-OH test to measure the Vitamin D level in your blood. Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy bones. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Hand X-Ray Performed?
- Before starting the hand X-ray, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to sit still on a chair. You will then have to place and press your hand down firmly against a specialized plate on an examination table.
- An X-ray machine will then send a beam of X-ray radiation from the top through your hand and will take an image that will be displayed on a monitor.
- The technologist will then reposition your hand to obtain the necessary views and will again take an image. This process will be repeated until all the necessary views have been obtained.
- During the scan, the technologist will ask you to sit still and hold your breath for a few seconds at certain points. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
In case, your doctor has asked you to take a hand X-ray with contrast, then a contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly before the scan begins.
How Long Does a Hand X-Ray Take?
A hand X-ray is usually completed within 15 minutes, but the actual exposure time to radiation is usually less than a second.
Is Radiation Involved in a Hand X-Ray?
Yes. An X-ray is an imaging test that involves a small amount of radiation to show images of the organs, tissues, and bones of the body.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Hand X-Ray?
- The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single X-ray. However, radiation’s effect and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation increases with every X-ray a person gets.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in an X-ray.
- Developing babies are sensitive to radiation and are at more risk for harm, so women should inform their doctors and the X-ray technicians if they are pregnant.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the hand X-ray is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Hand X-Ray?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.