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X-Ray Exam: Pelvis

What's an X-Ray?

An X-ray is a safe and painless test that uses a small amount of radiation to make an image of bones, organs, and other parts of the body.

The X-ray image is black and white. Dense body parts, such as bones, block the passage of the X-ray beam through the body. These look white on the X-ray image. Softer body tissues, such as the skin and muscles, allow the X-ray beams to pass through them. They look darker on the image.

X-rays are commonly done in doctors’ offices, radiology departments, imaging centers, and dentists’ offices.

What's a Pelvis X-Ray?

In a pelvis X-ray, an X-ray machine sends a beam of radiation through the pelvic bones, which surround the hip area, and an image is recorded on special film or a computer. This image shows the bones, which include the two hip bones, and the sacrum and the coccyx (tailbone).

An X-ray technician will take pictures of the pelvis: 

  • from the front with the legs straight (anteroposterior view or AP)
  • from the side with the legs bent (lateral view)

Pelvis X-rays are done with a child lying on a table. They should stay still for 2–3 seconds while each X-ray is taken so the images are clear. If an image is blurred, the X-ray technician might take another one.

Why Are Pelvis X-Rays Done?

A pelvis X-ray can help doctors find the cause of pain, swelling, or deformity in the pelvic, hip, or upper leg areas. It also can show broken bones after an injury.

An X-ray can help doctors plan surgery, when needed, and check the results after it. It also can help to detect other problems such as cysts, tumors, and later-stage infections of the pelvic bones.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the pelvis X-ray or what the results mean, talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: Mar 20, 2022

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