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    Skull x-ray

    X-ray - head; X-ray - skull; Skull radiography; Head x-ray

    A skull x-ray is a picture of the bones surrounding the brain, including the facial bones, the nose, and the sinuses.

    How the Test is Performed

    You will be asked to lie on the x-ray table or sit in a chair. Your head may be placed in different positions.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. Remove all jewelry.

    How the Test Will Feel

    Generally, there is little or no discomfort during an x-ray. If there is a head injury, positioning the head may be uncomfortable.

    Why the Test is Performed

    Your doctor may order this test if you you have injured your skull or you have symptoms or signs of a structural problem inside the skull (such as a tumor or bleeding).

    A skull x-ray is also used to evaluate an unusually shaped child's head.

    Additional conditions under which the test may be performed include the following:

    • Malocclusion of teeth
    • Mastoiditis
    • Occupational hearing loss
    • Otitis media; chronic
    • Otosclerosis
    • Pituitary tumor
    • Sinusitis

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    Abnormal results may be due to:

    • Fracture
    • Tumor
    • Erosion or decalcification of the bone
    • Movement of the soft tissues inside the skull

    A skull x-ray may detect increased intracranial pressure and unusual skull structures that are present at birth (congenital).

    Risks

    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 associated with x-rays.

    Considerations

    A CT scan of the head is usually preferred to a skull x-ray to evaluate most head injuries or brain disorders. Skull x-rays are rarely used as the main test to diagnose such conditions.

    References

    Stevens JM. Cranial and intracranial disease: trauma, cerebrospinal fluid disturbances, degenerative disorders and epilepsy. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Adam, Dixon AK, eds. Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 5.

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    • X-ray

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    • Skull of an adult

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      • X-ray

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      • Skull of an adult

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      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Skull x-ray

          Review Date: 12/10/2012

          Reviewed By: Javed Qureshi, MD, American Board of Radiology, Victoria Radiology Associates, Victoria, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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