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Lesson 17. Skull X-Rays


a. Skull X-rays are the oldest, non-invasive neurological test used to evaluate the bones, which make up the skull. Because of complex anatomy of the skull, a series of films is usually required for a complete evaluation.

b. Diagnostic uses for skull X-rays:

(1) To detect fractures in patient's with head trauma.
(2) To help detect and assess increased intracranial pressure, tumors, bleeding, and infection.
(3) To aid diagnosis of pituitary tumors.
(4) To detect congenital anomalies.

c.  Nursing implications.

(1) Review the patient's clinical record to determine the reason (purpose) for the specific scheduled skull x-rays.
(2) Approach and identify the patient.
(3) Interview the patient to determine his/her knowledge of the purpose of the skull x-rays.
(4) As indicated, explain to the patient the specific purpose of the skull x-rays in his/her situation. Explain purpose in a manner consistent with that offered by the physician to avoid confusing the patient.
(5) Explain to the patient the events which will occur prior to the skull x-rays.
(a) Patient is not required to restrict food and fluids before x-rays.
(b) All jewelry and other metal objects must be removed from patient's head and neck and placed in safekeeping.
(c) Tell the patient where and when the x-rays will be performed.

(6) Explain to the patient events which will occur during the skull x-ray procedure.

(a) Patient will be placed in a supine position on a radiographic table, or seated in a chair, and instructed to remain still.
(b) A headband, foam pads, or sandbags may be used to immobilize the patient's head and increase patient comfort.
(c) Tell the patient that several (usually five) x-ray films of the skull will be taken from various angles.
(d) Reassure patient that the procedure will cause no discomfort.
(e) Films will be developed and checked before patient leaves the x-ray department.

(7) Explain to the patient events, which will occur after the procedure.

(a) Patient will be returned to his/her room.
(b) Physician will report the results of the x-rays to the patient when they are available.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015