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Chest X-ray

(Chest Radiography)

 

Definition

A chest x-ray is an image of the heart and lungs and other structures in the chest. A small dose of radiation is used to create the image. It is one of the most common medical tests done.

 

Reasons for Test    TOP

Chest x-rays are done to look for abnormalities of the heart, lungs, bones, or blood vessels in the chest. A chest x-ray may be ordered if certain symptoms are present, such as:

  • Bad or persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Chest injury
  • Fever
  • Abnormality of the rib cage
  • Evidence of cancer
 

Possible Complications    TOP

Chest x-rays are done using a small dose of radiation. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor or the x-ray technician. X-rays are generally avoided during pregnancy, if possible.

 

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Test

You will be asked to remove all jewelry from the waist up. You will also put on a hospital gown. A lead apron may be placed over your abdomen and pelvis. This is done to minimize the risks of radiation.

Description of Test

Pictures are usually taken from both a side view and a front view. An x-ray technician will position you according to the type of x-ray machine used. In most cases, you will stand against the x-ray plate with your hands up or to the side. You will be asked to take a deep breath and hold it while the x-ray is being taken. You will also be asked to stay as still as possible when the film is taken. You may notice that the film cartridge feels cool to your skin.

After Test    TOP

You will be able to leave after the test is done.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

About 10-15 minutes

Will It Hurt?    TOP

No

Results    TOP

A specialist will look at the x-rays taken and send a report to the doctor. Results are generally available in 1-2 days.

 

Call Your Doctor    TOP

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America
http://www.radiologyinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

Radiology for Patients
http://www.radiology-info.org

REFERENCES:

X-ray (radiography)—chest. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/pdf/chestrad.pdf. Updated Janaury 20, 2018. Accessed March 16, 2018.



Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 2/10/2014

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