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Chest Radiography

What is a Chest Radiography?

The chest radiography (x-ray) is the most commonly performed diagnostic x-ray examination. A chest x-ray makes images of the heart, lungs, airways, blood vessels and the bones of the spine and chest.

An x-ray is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.

What are some common uses of the chest x-ray procedure?

The chest x-ray is performed to evaluate the lungs, heart and chest wall. A chest  x-ray is typically the first imaging test used to help diagnose symptoms such as: shortness of breath, a bad or persistent cough, chest pain or injury or fever.

Physicians use the examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as: pneumonia, heart failure and other heart problems, emphysema, lung cancer other medical conditions.

How should I prepare to receive a chest x-ray?

Chest x-rays requires no special preparation. You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.  Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.

How is the chest x-ray procedure performed?

Typically, two views of the chest are taken, one from the back and the other from the side of the body as the patient stands against the image recording plate. The technologist, an individual specially trained to perform radiology examinations, will position the patient with hands on hips and chest pressed the image plate. For the second view, the patient's side is against the image plate with arms elevated.

You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image. The technologist will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the x-ray machine. Patients who cannot stand may be positioned lying down on a table for chest x-rays.