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X-Rays at Urgent Care: What You Need to Know

Key Points

  • X-rays are offered at many urgent care clinics and can help diagnose various conditions like broken bones and respiratory illnesses.
  • Different types of X-rays are available, including chest X-rays, abdominal X-rays, bone X-rays, and dental X-rays, depending on the symptoms and medical history.
  • X-rays at urgent care are convenient, cost-effective, and accessible, with shorter wait times compared to hospitals.
  • Urgent care centers use the same equipment and technology as hospitals, ensuring quality results.

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can help diagnose a variety of medical conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. Urgent care clinics often offer X-rays as one of their services, since an X-ray is able to diagnose many health conditions, like broken bones or pneumonia.

The process of getting an X-ray is usually very quick and painless, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The results of the X-ray can provide valuable information to your healthcare provider in order to make an accurate diagnosis or monitor treatment. It is important to note that while X-rays do expose you to a small amount of radiation, however, the benefits of the diagnostic tool often outweigh the risks.

X-Rays at Urgent Care: What You Need to Know

Key Points

  • X-rays are offered at many urgent care clinics and can help diagnose various conditions like broken bones and respiratory illnesses.
  • Different types of X-rays are available, including chest X-rays, abdominal X-rays, bone X-rays, and dental X-rays, depending on the symptoms and medical history.
  • X-rays at urgent care are convenient, cost-effective, and accessible, with shorter wait times compared to hospitals.
  • Urgent care centers use the same equipment and technology as hospitals, ensuring quality results.

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can help diagnose a variety of medical conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. Urgent care clinics often offer X-rays as one of their services, since an X-ray is able to diagnose many health conditions, like broken bones or pneumonia.

The process of getting an X-ray is usually very quick and painless, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The results of the X-ray can provide valuable information to your healthcare provider in order to make an accurate diagnosis or monitor treatment. It is important to note that while X-rays do expose you to a small amount of radiation, however, the benefits of the diagnostic tool often outweigh the risks.

X-rays at Urgent Care

If you have suffered an injury or are experiencing certain symptoms, your doctor may recommend an X-ray to help diagnose the issue. Most urgent care clinics are equipped with X-ray machines and can provide this service to patients in need of it.

Why an X-ray may be Necessary

X-rays are a type of medical imaging that uses radiation to create images of the inside of your body. They can help doctors identify a range of conditions that may be the source of your pain or discomfort. Some conditions that can be found on X-ray, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Broken bones
  • Respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia
  • Cancerous and noncancerous tumors
  • Enlarged heart

Availability of X-ray services at Urgent Care centers

Many urgent care centers have X-ray machines on-site and can provide this service to patients. This can be especially convenient if you need immediate medical attention and don't have time to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. However, it's important to note that not all urgent care centers offer X-ray services. You can find out if your local urgent care offers this service by calling ahead of your appointment.

Common Conditions that May Require an X-ray at Urgent Care

X-rays may be necessary for a variety of injuries or conditions, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Some of these conditions include:

  • Broken bones
  • Pneumonia or other respiratory problems
  • Dental issues, such as broken teeth or jaw injuries
  • Foreign objects in the body
  • Abdominal pain or other internal issues
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing

If you are experiencing symptoms related to any of these conditions, it's important to seek medical attention right away. An X-ray may be necessary to diagnose the issue and determine the best course of treatment.

Types of X-rays

There are different types of X-rays, and the type of X-ray you get will depend on your specific symptoms and medical history. Here are some of the most common types of X-rays that may be offered at urgent care, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Chest X-ray - This type of X-ray is used to diagnose lung and heart conditions, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and congestive heart failure.
  • Abdominal X-ray - This type of X-ray can be used to diagnose conditions in the abdomen, such as kidney stones, bowel obstruction, and abdominal pain.
  • Bone X-ray - This type of X-ray is used to diagnose bone fractures, arthritis, and other bone-related conditions.
  • Dental X-ray - This type of X-ray is used to diagnose dental conditions, such as cavities, gum disease, and impacted teeth.

Your healthcare provider will determine which type of X-ray you need based on your symptoms and your medical history. Here are some situations when each type of X-ray may be necessary, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Chest X-ray - This X-ray may be needed if you are experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your healthcare provider may also recommend a chest X-ray to diagnose lung or heart conditions based on your overall health and risk factors.
  • Abdominal X-ray - If you are experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting, your healthcare provider may recommend an abdominal X-ray to diagnose conditions in the abdomen, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Bone X-ray - If you have injured a bone or are experiencing bone-related pain, your healthcare provider may recommend a bone X-ray to diagnose bone fractures, arthritis, scoliosis, or other bone-related conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Getting an X-ray at Urgent Care

If your urgent care provider determines that you need an X-ray, the process for getting one is relatively straightforward. First, you will be asked to remove any jewelry or clothing that may interfere with the X-ray images. Then, you will be taken to the X-ray area, or an X-ray machine will be brought to you, depending on your circumstances.

What to Expect During the X-ray Procedure

For an X-ray, you will be positioned in front of the X-ray machine, and the technician will take the necessary images. Sometimes the positioning may be awkward, so you may be given medication for pain or to help you relax beforehand, according to Sanford Health. During the X-ray procedure, you will be asked to hold still while the technician takes the images. Depending on the area being imaged, you may need to hold your breath for a few seconds. The entire process typically takes only a few minutes.

Potential Risks of X-rays

While X-rays are generally safe, there is a small risk of radiation exposure, according to the FDA. However, the amount of radiation exposure from medically necessary X-rays is typically not a cause for concern.

Qualifications of Healthcare Professionals who perform X-rays at Urgent Care Clinics

The healthcare professionals who perform X-rays at urgent care centers are typically licensed radiology technicians who have undergone specialized training in medical imaging. They are required to adhere to strict safety guidelines to minimize the risk of radiation exposure and ensure the accuracy of the images, according to the FDA.

Insurance Coverage and Costs Associated with Getting an X-ray at Urgent Care

The cost of getting an X-ray at an urgent care center will depend on several factors, including your insurance coverage and the specific type of X-ray you require. However, many urgent care centers offer affordable pricing options for patients who are uninsured or underinsured. You can check with your insurance provider to determine your coverage and any associated costs before getting an X-ray at an urgent care center.

Other Diagnostic Imaging Services Offered at Urgent Care Clinics

In addition to X-rays, urgent care clinics may offer other diagnostic imaging services to help diagnose and monitor a variety of medical conditions. Other common imaging services offered via referral include ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, according to the FDA.

Ultrasounds are a type of imaging test that use high-frequency sound waves to create images of internal organs and tissues. They are commonly used to evaluate the health of a developing fetus during pregnancy, but can also be used to diagnose conditions such as gallstones, kidney stones, and liver disease.

CT scans, also known as computed tomography scans, use X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of the body. According to the FDA, they are often used to diagnose conditions such as bone fractures, internal bleeding, and cancer.

MRI scans use magnets and radio waves to look at organs, bones, muscles, and blood vessels.

It is important to note that not all urgent care centers offer the same imaging services—and some urgent care clinics may refer you to a specialist or hospital if more advanced imaging is needed. Additionally, some imaging tests may require additional preparation or follow-up care, so be sure to ask your healthcare provider about any specific instructions or concerns you may have.

What to Expect When You Get X-rays at Urgent Care

Many patients report positive experiences with their urgent care visits, according to the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine. Around 11% of urgent care visits require X-rays according to one published study, which underscores the necessity for this service. Below we outline a few reasons why many patients enjoy choosing urgent care clinics for non-life-threatening healthcare.

Shorter Wait times Compared to Primary and Emergency Care

Urgent care centers often have a shorter wait time compared to emergency rooms and primary care offices. This is because urgent care clinics offer walk-in appointments, with extended hours and select services for non-life-threatening cases.

Urgent Care Provides Quality Care

Urgent care clinics employ qualified radiology technicians and use approved equipment to help ensure accurate and reliable results. The quality of care you receive at an urgent care center is comparable to that of a hospital or imaging center.

Urgent Care as a Cost-Effective Care Option

Another benefit of getting an X-ray at an urgent care center is the cost. In general, urgent care clients offer services at a lower rate than many hospitals or imaging centers. Many urgent care clinics also accept a wide range of insurance plans.

How Urgent Care Centers Fit Into the Larger Healthcare System

Urgent care clinics play an important role in our healthcare system. They provide a convenient and cost-effective alternative to emergency rooms for non-life-threatening medical conditions, such as minor injuries and illnesses. This allows more critical cases to get faster care in the emergency room. Urgent care clinics are also usually open after hours, on weekends, and on holidays—making them a valuable resource for patients who need medical attention outside of regular business hours. Additionally, urgent care clinics can provide timely medical care for patients who cannot get an appointment with their primary care physician.

Urgent care centers are designed to complement primary care physicians and emergency rooms. They are not a replacement for either of these services but rather a supplement to them.

Benefits of Getting X-rays at Urgent Care

If you need an X-ray, going to an urgent care center can save you time and possibly also save you money by avoiding an emergency room visit. Here are some benefits of getting X-rays at an urgent care center:

  • Convenience - Urgent care centers are often open later than traditional medical facilities, making it easier to get an X-ray at a time that's convenient for you. They also typically have shorter wait times than emergency rooms, so you'll be seen faster.
  • Affordability - X-rays at urgent care centers are often less expensive than those at hospitals or other medical facilities, according to UChicago Medicine.
  • Accessibility - Urgent care centers offer a great option for people who do not have a primary care physician or are unable to wait for an appointment with their primary care physician.

Are X-rays at a Hospital or Imaging Center Better Than Urgent Care?

Urgent care clinics use the same equipment and technology as hospitals and other medical facilities, so the quality of the X-rays is the same. However, there are some differences when you get an X-ray at an urgent care instead of a hospital or imaging center:

  • Speed - Urgent care centers can often perform X-rays more quickly than hospitals or other medical facilities, according to UChicago Medicine. This can be important if you need a diagnosis quickly.
  • Cost - As mentioned earlier, urgent care clinics often are less expensive than hospitals or imaging centers, so you may be able to save money by going to an urgent care center for your X-ray.
  • Ease of access - Urgent care centers are often more accessible than hospitals or other medical facilities, which can be important if you don't have a car or if you live far away from a hospital.

Recap of Getting an X-ray at Urgent Care

Urgent care can be a convenient and affordable way for you to get the diagnostic imaging you need, including an X-ray. They are often faster and less expensive than going to the hospital, and they can help you get a diagnosis and treatment plan quickly.

If you think you need an X-ray and don't want to wait for an appointment with your primary care physician or spend hours in the emergency room, urgent care X-rays may be a good choice for you. You can use Solv to search urgent care clinics near you and even book your place in line.

It's important to note that while urgent care X-rays can be a great option for many people, they are not always the best choice. If you have a serious or life-threatening condition, such as shortness of breath, severe chest pain, or an open fracture—you should go to the emergency room instead.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the purpose of an X-ray?

    X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can help diagnose a variety of medical conditions such as broken bones, respiratory illnesses, tumors, and heart enlargement.
  • Can I get an X-ray at an urgent care clinic?

    Yes, most urgent care clinics are equipped with X-ray machines and can provide this service to patients in need of it. However, it's important to note that not all urgent care centers offer X-ray services.
  • What conditions can be diagnosed with an X-ray at an urgent care clinic?

    Some conditions that can be diagnosed with an X-ray at an urgent care clinic include broken bones, pneumonia or other respiratory problems, dental issues, foreign objects in the body, abdominal pain or other internal issues, and trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • What types of X-rays are available at urgent care clinics?

    Urgent care clinics may offer different types of X-rays, including chest X-rays for diagnosing lung and heart conditions, abdominal X-rays for diagnosing conditions in the abdomen, bone X-rays for diagnosing bone fractures and other bone-related conditions, and dental X-rays for diagnosing dental conditions.
  • What is the procedure for getting an X-ray at an urgent care clinic?

    If your urgent care provider determines that you need an X-ray, you will be asked to remove any jewelry or clothing that may interfere with the X-ray images. Then, you will be positioned in front of the X-ray machine, and the technician will take the necessary images. The entire process typically takes only a few minutes.
  • Are there any risks associated with getting an X-ray?

    While X-rays are generally safe, there is a small risk of radiation exposure. However, the amount of radiation exposure from medically necessary X-rays is typically not a cause for concern.
  • Who performs X-rays at urgent care clinics?

    The healthcare professionals who perform X-rays at urgent care centers are typically licensed radiology technicians who have undergone specialized training in medical imaging.
  • How much does it cost to get an X-ray at an urgent care clinic?

    The cost of getting an X-ray at an urgent care center will depend on several factors, including your insurance coverage and the specific type of X-ray you require. However, many urgent care centers offer affordable pricing options for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.
Sources

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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