Chest X-ray

Chest X-ray

What is a Chest X-ray (Chest Radiography)?

The chest x-ray is the most commonly performed diagnostic x-ray examination. A chest x-ray produces images of the heart, lungs, airways, blood vessels and the bones of the spine and chest. An x-ray (radiograph) 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 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:
  • breathing difficulties.
  • a bad or persistent cough.
  • chest pain or injury.
  • 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.
  • positioning of medical devices.
  • fluid or air collection around the lungs.
  • other medical conditions.
Chest X-ray

How should I prepare?

A chest x-ray requires no special preparation.

You will be asked to remove some of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.

Women should always inform their physician and 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. See the Safety page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.