Chest x-ray

Chest radiography; Serial chest x-ray; X-ray - chest

Definition

A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.

How the Test is Performed

You stand in front of the x-ray machine. You will be told to hold your breath when the x-ray is taken.

Two images are usually taken. You will first need to stand facing the machine, and then sideways.

How the Test will Feel

There is no discomfort. The film plate may feel cold.

How to Prepare for the Test

Tell the health care providerĀ if you are pregnant. Chest x-rays are generally not done during the first 6 months of pregnancy.

Risks

There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to many things, including:

In the lungs:

In the heart:

  • Problems with the size or shape of the heart
  • Problems with the position and shape of the large arteries
  • Evidence of heart failure

In the bones:

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent cough
  • Chest pain from a chest injury (with a possible rib fracture or lung complication) or from heart problems
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

It may also be done if you have signs of tuberculosis, lung cancer, or other chest or lung diseases.

A serial chest x-ray is one that is repeated. It may be done to monitor changes found on a past chest x-ray.

References / Related Articles
Achalasia
Acute mountain sickness
Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Adult Still disease
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Anthrax
Aortic dissection
Aortic regurgitation
Aortic stenosis
Asbestosis
Aspergillosis
Aspiration pneumonia
Asthma
Atelectasis
Atrial septal defect (ASD)
Atypical pneumonia
Blastomycosis
Brain abscess
Breast cancer
Broken bone
Bronchiectasis
Bronchiolitis
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
Byssinosis
Cardiac amyloidosis
Cardiac tamponade
Cerebral arteriovenous malformation
Chest pain
Coal worker's pneumoconiosis
Coarctation of the aorta
Collapsed lung (pneumothorax)
Coughing up blood
Diaphragmatic hernia
Dilated cardiomyopathy
Disseminated tuberculosis
Drug-induced lupus erythematosus
Drug-induced pulmonary disease
Echinococcosis
Empyema
Goodpasture syndrome
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
Heart attack
Heart failure - overview
Histiocytosis
Histoplasmosis - acute (primary) pulmonary
Hodgkin lymphoma
Hospital-acquired pneumonia
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
Hypertensive heart disease
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Hypothyroidism
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Industrial bronchitis
Interstitial lung disease
Legionnaire disease
Lung cancer - small cell
Lung disease
Lung metastases
Malignant hypertension
Malignant mesothelioma
Meningitis
Metastatic brain tumor
Metastatic pleural tumor
Mitral stenosis
Mitral valve prolapse
Mitral valve regurgitation
Mycoplasma pneumonia
Myocarditis
Necrotizing vasculitis
Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome
Neuroblastoma
Neurosarcoidosis
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Occupational asthma
Osteoporosis - overview
Patent ductus arteriosus
Pericarditis
Pericarditis - after heart attack
Peripartum cardiomyopathy
Pleural effusion
Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia
Pneumonia - adults (community acquired)
Pneumonia - weakened immune system
Premature infant
Primary alveolar hypoventilation
Pulmonary actinomycosis
Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis
Pulmonary aspergilloma
Pulmonary edema
Pulmonary embolus
Pulmonary hypertension
Pulmonary nocardiosis
Pulmonary tuberculosis
Pulmonary valve stenosis
Pulmonary veno-occlusive disease
Q fever
Renal cell carcinoma
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Restrictive cardiomyopathy
Rheumatoid lung disease
Rheumatoid pneumoconiosis
SVC obstruction
Sarcoidosis
Scleroderma
Silicosis
Simple pulmonary eosinophilia
Solitary fibrous tumor
Solitary pulmonary nodule
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Testicular cancer
Tetralogy of Fallot
Transient ischemic attack
Transposition of the great arteries
Ventricular septal defect
Viral pneumonia
Wilms tumor

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Chest radiography (chest x-ray, CXR) - diagnostic norm. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:327-328.

Gotway MB, Panse PM, Gruden JF, Elicker BM. Thoracic radiology. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 18.

Review Date: 8/21/2016
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM QualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 9-1-1 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only—they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

The information provided here may refer to procedures or services that are not offered by Ridgeview Medical Center.