Chest X Ray

Overview & Description

X-rays consist of electromagnetic waves of energy that penetrate matter to a variable extent, depending on the density of the matter. The remaining radiation after penetration and absorption by the tissues produces various grades of black and white on very sensitive x-ray film.

Who is a candidate for the test?

Chest x-rays are performed as part of a routine screening physical exam and prior to most surgeries. Any patient with chest symptoms, such as cough, blood in the sputum, or spit, pain in the chest, injury to the chest, infection, or shortness of breath, will likely undergo a chest x-ray. Smokers should also have a chest x-ray.

How is the test performed?

Individuals undergoing a chest x-ray will undress to the waist and put on an exam gown. The individual will be asked to remove all jewelry and metal objects that may interfere with the exam. A woman should inform the technologist if she is pregnant. The exam is usually done standing, but it can be performed sitting or lying down. The individual may be asked to hold his or her breath very briefly during the exam. Usually one or two x-rays are taken, a front view and a side view. The x-ray scans will be checked to see if the x-rays are adequate before the individual gets dressed and departs.

Preparation & Expectations

What is involved in preparation for the test?

There is no special preparation for a chest x-ray.

Results and Values

What do the test results mean?

Chest x-rays detect abnormalities of the lungs, heart, great blood vessels, chest wall, ribs, diaphragm and thoracic spine. The healthcare provider will discuss abnormal results with the individual.

Article type: xmedgeneral