Chest radiography; Serial chest x-ray; X-ray - chest
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 pregnancy, and special precautions are taken if they are needed.
There is no discomfort. The imaging plate may feel cold.
Your provider 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:
In the mediastinum (middle part of the chest):
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.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Chest radiography (chest x-ray, CXR) - diagnostic norm. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:327-328.
Felker GM, Teerlink JR. Diagnosis and management of acute heart failure. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 49.
Jokerst CE, Gotway MB. Thoracic radiology: noninvasive diagnostic imaging. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 20.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/31/2022
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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