X-rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation that penetrate through bone and soft tissue structures. They can produce images especially of the bone structure in your shoulder. They are one of the most commonly performed radiology procedures. They are also often the first line of investigation of your shoulder.

How it works

The human body is composed of tissues and organs of varying densities. X-rays are absorbed, reflected or pass through the different structures depending on their density. X-rays pass less readily through bone resulting in a white image on the X-ray film.  Less dense tissues such as muscle tendons or fat allow more X-ray to passage through resulting in various shades of grey on the film.


X-rays of the shoulder are helpful in assessing:

  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Arthritic Conditions
  • Rotator Cuff Disease or Injury
  • Bone Tumours


X-rays are usually performed by an X-ray technician (Radiographer). The X-ray machine will take pictures from different directions. The Radiologist (a specialist doctor) will view the films and provide a report for Mr Lyons. If X-rays are required at your initial visit with Mr Lyons they can usually be done immediately. The Radiology Department is in the same building as his office. You can then return for his assessment of the X-rays without the need for an extra consultation.

Some special situations may require the X-ray to be performed after an injection of an X-ray dye has been injected in to the shoulder. This can enhance the information obtained from the X-rays.

Risks and Complications

X-rays do require a small dose of radiation. The dose involved is small and must be balanced against the helpful information the tests provides.

If the X-ray requires the injection of a dye which shows up on the X-ray, there is a small risk of an allergic reaction to the dye. You should advise Mr Lyons or the Radiologist if you have a known allergy to Iodine.

Shoulder X-ray