This test is an x-ray of one or both hands.
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 when compared to the benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.
X-ray - hand
Mettler FA. Skeletal system. In: Mettler FA, ed. Essentials of Radiology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 8.
Schoener B, Wagner MJ. Hand injuries. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 42.
Review Date 7/25/2022
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.