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X-ray is a series of pictures of the bones in the face. One type of facial X-ray (called a paranasal sinus X-ray series) looks at
the air-filled cavities (sinuses) around the nose and eyes.
are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that are focused into a
beam, much like a flashlight beam. X-rays can pass through most objects,
including the human body. X-rays make a picture by striking a detector that
either exposes a film or sends the picture to a computer. Dense tissues in the
body, such as bones, block (absorb) many of the X-rays and look white on an
X-ray picture. Less dense tissues, such as muscles and organs, block fewer of
the X-rays (more of the X-rays pass through) and look like shades of gray on an
X-ray. X-rays that pass only through air, such as through the lungs, look black on the picture.
A facial X-ray helps find bone
fractures, tumors, foreign objects, infections, and
abnormal growths or changes in bone structure or size. An X-ray of the eye
(orbital cavity) may be taken if the eye has been injured. A
computed tomography (CT) scan may be needed to check
any problems seen on X-ray.
A facial or sinus X-ray may be done
Before the X-ray test, tell your doctor
if you are or might be pregnant. Pregnancy and the risk of radiation exposure
to your unborn baby (fetus) must be
considered. The risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared
with the potential benefits of the test. If a facial X-ray is absolutely
necessary, a lead apron will be placed over your abdomen to shield your baby
from exposure to the X-rays.
Talk to your
doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks,
how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the
importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information formmedical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You don't need to do anything else before
you have this test.
A facial X-ray is taken by a radiology
technologist. The X-ray pictures are usually read by a doctor who specializes
in interpreting X-rays (radiologist),
but other doctors may also review the films.
You will need to
remove any jewelry that may be in the way of the X-ray picture. You will also
need to remove glasses or dentures.
You may be asked to lie on an
X-ray table or sit in a chair. Several views (a series) of X-ray pictures are
needed for clear pictures of the face. Your head may need to be repositioned
for each view. You should hold your head completely still while the pictures
are being taken. A padded brace, foam pads, a headband, or sandbags may be used
to hold your head in place while the pictures are taken.
pictures of the orbital cavities or sinuses are needed, you will usually sit up
while they are taken. A padded brace may be used to hold your head still while
the pictures are taken.
Facial X-rays usually take about 10 to 20
minutes. You will wait about 5 minutes until the X-rays are processed in case
repeat pictures need to be taken. In some clinics and hospitals, X-ray pictures
can be shown immediately on a computer screen (digitally).
You will feel no discomfort from the
X-rays. The X-ray table may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may find
that the positions you need to hold are uncomfortable or painful, especially if
you have an injury.
There is always a slight risk of damage to cells
or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels of
radiation used for this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually
very low compared with the potential benefits of the test.
For example, the radiation exposure
from a chest X-ray is about equal to the natural radiation exposure received
during a round-trip airline flight from Boston to Los Angeles (Montreal to
Vancouver) or 10 days in the Rocky Mountains (Denver, Colorado).
X-ray is a series of pictures of the bones in your
face. A facial X-ray helps find bone
fractures, tumors, foreign objects, infections, and
abnormal growths or changes in bone structure or size. In an emergency, the
doctor can see the initial results of a facial X-ray in a few minutes.
radiologist usually has the official X-ray report
ready the next day.
The bones of the face and
orbital cavity are normal in size and shape.
No foreign objects or abnormal
growths are present.
No broken bones are
The sinuses are clear. No
inflammation or infection is present.
Foreign objects, such as
fragments of metal or glass, may be present.
Broken bones, such as the
nasal bones or bones around the eye (orbital cavity), may be
Signs of a disease that
affects the bones of the face or orbital cavity may be present.
Abnormal growths (tumors) are
sinusitis, such as fluid in the sinuses or a thick
tissues lining the sinuses, may be present.
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
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