X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that can be focused into a beam, much like a flashlight beam. Unlike a beam of light, though, X-rays can pass through most objects, including the human body.
When X-rays strike a piece of photographic film, they can produce a picture. Dense tissues in the body, such as bones, block (absorb) many of the X-rays and appear white on an X-ray picture. Less dense tissues, such as muscles and organs, block fewer of the X-rays (more of the X-rays pass through) and appear in shades of grey. X-rays that pass only through air appear black on an X-ray picture.
Many centres are changing from film to using computers for digital pictures.
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Howard B. Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology