Procedure, Preparation & Risks of Neck X-Ray

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The neck plays such a significant role in our daily lives with regards to movement, communication and a host of other habits. There is no doubt therefore that it is likely to suffer a number of minor complications every once in a way. Just as with any x-ray, the procedure requires a small amount of radiation in order to produce the images of the soft tissue present in the neck.

Why is a Neck X-Ray Performed?

A neck x-ray is performed primarily to identify and evaluate the extent of neck injuries as well as other medical ailments such as persistent numbness, pain or weakness. Neck x-rays are also commonly used to identify if air passages are blocked as a result of some blockage in the airway or swelling in the neck.


When undergoing a normal neck x-ray, the patient will be required to enter a separate room that houses the x-ray machine most likely to be hanging from the ceiling. Because of the radiation emitted by the machine, the parts of the body that do not require to be scanned will be covered by a lead shield or protective clothing. In the event a child is undergoing the procedure, the parent may be allowed into the x-ray room, but will require to wear fully protective clothing. Depending on a number of factors such as the exact location of pain in the neck the test may be performed with the patient standing, sitting or even lying face down. While the images are being captured, it is essential that the neck remain completely stiff in order to prevent blurring of the images. The patient will feel absolutely no pain during the entire procedure although the positions may tend to be a little uncomfortable. The patient may also be asked to regularly change positions in order to capture images from different angles of the neck.


There is no specific preparation required when undergoing a lateral neck x-ray or even a normal neck x-ray, but it is important that you inform the doctor if you are pregnant before the x-ray is performed. This is important as the amount of radiation involved could hamper the natural development of the unborn child. Also make sure that you wear no metallic jewellery or watches during the procedure.

Risks Involved

The major risk involved is that of radiation exposure although this is usually monitored and maintained at a less than harmful level. Women and children, however, are more susceptible to the risks of x-rays.