A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.
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.
Tell the health care provider if you are pregnant. Chest x-rays are generally not done during the first 6 months of pregnancy.
There is no discomfort. The film plate may feel cold.
Your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you have any of the following symptoms:
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.
Abnormal results may be due to many things, including:
In the lungs:
In the heart:
In the bones:
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.
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, 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.