X-rays can detect radio-opaque foreign bodies such as glass and metal
Following traumatic breach of the skin X-rays can be used to identify and locate residual foreign bodies. Materials which are radio-opaque such as glass or metal are usually seen easily. Other less dense substances such as wood are not readily detected with X-rays.
The requester should inform the radiographer acquiring the image that the purpose of performing the X-ray is to identify a foreign body. This is so that specific image settings can be used, and views acquired depending on the nature and site of injury. At least 2 views are required with an external metallic marker to indicate the point of skin entry.
As well as locating foreign bodies within soft tissues, X-rays can show if a foreign body is lodged within bone. Antibiotics may be appropriate in this scenario to prevent bone infection.