This test is an x-ray of one or both hands.
X-ray - hand
How the Test is Performed
A hand x-ray is taken in a hospital radiology department or your health care provider's office by an x-ray technician. You will be asked to place your hand on the x-ray table, and keep it very still as the picture is being taken. You may need to change the position of your hand, so more images can be taken.
How to Prepare for the Test
Tell the provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Remove all jewelry from your hand and wrist.
How the Test will Feel
Generally, there is little or no discomfort associated with x-rays.
Why the Test is Performed
Hand x-ray is used to detect fractures, tumors, foreign objects, or degenerative conditions of the hand. Hand x-rays may also be done to find out a child's "bone age." This can help determine if a health problem is preventing the child from growing properly or how much growth is left.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results may include:
- Bone tumors
- Degenerative bone conditions
- Osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone caused by an infection)
There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.
Chong AK, Tan DMK. Diagnostic imaging of the hand and wrist. In: Neligan PC, ed. Plastic Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 3.
Stearns DA, Peak DA. Hand. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 43.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.