Attending for an X-ray in Durham as an outpatient

Requests for X-rays are made electronically so you don’t need to take anything with you.

The X-ray department (Radiology) is based at:

University Hospital of North Durham
North Rd, Durham DH1 5TW

The opening times are 9am-4:30pm Monday-Friday.

There is no need to make an appointment, but there may be a short wait if it is busy when you arrive.

Your Results

The report will be sent electronically to your doctor. The surgery will contact you if there is anything wrong, however, if the report is normal, you may not be contacted. If you wish to find out the results and haven’t been contacted within 2 weeks, please call the surgery after 10am.

About Your X-Ray

The purpose of this leaflet is to explain the potential risks from the kind of radiation used in X-ray imaging. It does not apply to other kinds of imaging such as ultrasound imaging and MRI imaging. This is a new initiative in 2018 following changes in radiation safety laws.

Why am I having an X-ray?

X-ray examinations have many uses including

  • To help find out what is wrong with you
  • To check on progress of an illness or injury
  • To help carry out an internal procedure as part of your treatment
  • To provide your doctor with other clinical information

Your healthcare team have recommended that an X-ray will be of benefit to you, and the request has been checked by specially trained staff that it is the right one for you and your condition. When deciding on whether an X-ray is required (and what kind), the healthcare professionals involved always check that the benefit of having the X-ray is greater than the risk.

X-ray examinations use a beam of electromagnetic radiation to see inside your body. The radiation does not stay inside you or make you radioactive. It is the same radiation as light and radio waves, but has a higher energy and is capable of causing a process known as ionisation.

Are there any risks in using ionising radiation?

Ionising radiation can cause cell damage that may, after many years or decades, turn cancerous. We are all at risk of developing cancer during our lifetime. The normal risk is that this will happen to about 50% of people at some point in their life (1 in 2).

We are also all exposed to background radiation every day. The table on the next page tells you how much radiation you are likely to get from different types of X-ray examination, compared to other every day activities, and how this may affect your cancer risk.

Risk comparisons

Can be found at: 

What if I may be pregnant?

Exposure of an unborn baby to ionising radiation may cause a slight increase in their cancer risk. For this reason, X-ray examination of the abdomen or pelvic area are usually avoided when pregnancy is possible or confirmed, unless the risk of not performing the X-ray is greater. You must tell your healthcare team if there is any possibility of you being pregnant. X-rays of parts of the body well away from the abdomen such as limbs (arms and legs) and dental X-rays do not give any increased risk to an unborn baby

What about children?

Long term effects from ionising radiation can take many years to come about. The risk of long term effects is increased slightly in younger people because they have more time left for them to develop. The healthcare team take account of this when deciding if a child needs an X-ray examination, and the amount of radiation used is kept as low as possible.

What if I don’t have the examination?

The risk of not having the examination is that it may not be possible to find out what is wrong with you, or how best to treat you. You should discuss any concerns you may have with your healthcare team.

What if I have more questions?

Please talk to your doctor or any of the team carrying out your X-ray if you would like to discuss any of this information further.

Last modified: May 14, 2020