Basics of X-ray Physics
Tutorial introduction

Key points

  • X-rays are produced de novo as needed
  • No radioactive substance is used
  • X-rays travel in straight lines and are attenuated according to density and thickness of body tissues
  • X-rays are potentially hazardous
  • Hospital staff have a duty to use X-rays responsibly

This tutorial describes how X-rays are produced and how they interact with the body in forming a radiographic image. X-ray safety issues are briefly discussed.

A basic knowledge of X-ray physics is complementary to knowledge of X-ray interpretation.

Page author: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust UK (Read bio)

Last reviewed: February 2016