Chest x ray



Definition

A chest x ray is a procedure used to evaluate organs and structures within the chest for symptoms of disease. Chest x rays include views of the lungs, heart, small portions of the gastrointestinal tract, thyroid gland, and the bones of the chest area. X rays are a form of radiation that can penetrate the body and produce an image on an x-ray film. Another name for the film produced by x rays is radiograph.


Purpose

Chest x rays are ordered for a wide variety of diagnostic purposes. In fact, this is probably the most frequently performed type of x ray. In some cases, chest x rays are ordered for a single check of an organ's condition, and at other times, serial x rays are ordered to compare to previous studies. Some common reasons for chest x rays include the following.


Pulmonary disorders

Chest films are frequently ordered to diagnose or rule out pneumonia. One type, tuberculosis, can be observed on chest x rays, as can cardiac disease and damage to the ribs or lungs. Other pulmonary disorders such as pneumothorax (presence of air or gas in the chest cavity outside the lungs) or emphysema may be detected or evaluated through the use of chest x ray.


Cancer

A chest x ray may be ordered by a physician to check for possible tumors of the lungs, lymphoid tissue, or bones of the thorax. These may be primary tumors, or the areas in which cancer originates in the body. X rays also check for secondary spread of cancer from another organ to the chest.


Cardiac disorders

While less sensitive than echocardiography , chest x ray can be used to check for disorders such as congestive heart failure or pulmonary edema.


Other

Chest x rays are used to see foreign bodies that may have been swallowed or inhaled, and to evaluate response to treatment for various diseases. Often the chest x ray is also used to verify correct placement of chest tubes or catheters. Chest x rays can be used to check for fluid surrounding the lungs (pleural effusion).

Description

Routine chest x rays consist of two views, the frontal view (referred to as posterioranterior or PA) and the lateral (side) view. It is preferred that the patient stand for this exam, particularly when studying collection of fluid in the lungs.

During the actual time of exposure, the technologist will ask the patient to hold his or her breath. It is very important in taking a chest x ray to ensure there is no motion that could detract from the quality and sharpness of the film image. The procedure will only take a few minutes and the time patients must hold their breath is a matter of a few seconds.

The chest x ray may be performed in a physician's office or referred to an outpatient radiology facility or hospital radiology department. In some cases, particularly for patients who cannot get out of bed, a portable chest x ray may be taken. Portable films are sometimes of poorer quality than those taken with permanent equipment, but are the best choice for some patients or situations when the patient cannot be moved or properly positioned for the chest x ray. Patients confined to bed may be placed in as upright a position as possible to get a clear picture, particularly of chest fluid.


Preparation

There is no advance preparation necessary for chest x rays. Once the patient arrives in the exam area, a hospital gown will replace all clothing on the upper body and all jewelry must be removed.


Aftercare

No aftercare is required by patients who have chest x rays.


Risks

The only risk associated with chest x ray is minimal exposure to radiation, particularly for pregnant women and children. Those patients should use protective lead aprons during the procedure. Technologists are cautioned to check carefully possible dislodging of any tubes or monitors in the chest area from the patient's placement during the exam.


Normal results

A radiologist, or physician specially trained in the technique and interpretation of x rays, will evaluate the results. A normal chest x ray will show normal structures for the age and medical history of the patient. Findings, whether normal or abnormal, will be provided to the referring physician in the form of a written report.

Abnormal findings on chest x rays are used in conjunction with a physician's physical exam findings, patient medical history, and other diagnostic tests including laboratory tests to reach a final diagnosis. For many diseases, chest x rays are more effective when compared to previous chest x-ray studies. The patient is asked to help the radiology facility in locating previous chest radiographs from other facilities.


Pulmonary disorders

Pneumonia shows up on radiographs as patches and irregular areas of density (from fluid in the lungs). If the bronchi (air passages in the lungs which are usually not visible) can be seen, a diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia may be made. Shifts or shadows in the hila (lung roots) may indicate enlarged lymph nodes of a malignancy. Widening of the spaces between ribs and increased lucency of the lung fields suggests emphysema. Other pulmonary diseases may also be detected or suspected through chest x ray.


Cancer

In nearly all patients with lung cancer, some sort of abnormality can be seen on a chest radiograph. Hilar masses (enlargements at that part of the lungs where vessels and nerves enter) are one of the more common symptoms as are abnormal masses and fluid buildup on the outside surface of the lungs or surrounding areas. Interstitial lung disease, which is a large category of disorders, many of which are related to exposure of substances (such as asbestos fibers), may be detected on a chest x ray as increased prominence of the interstitial pattern, often in the lower portions of the lungs.


Other

Congestive heart failure and other cardiac diseases may be indicated on the view of a heart and lung in a chest radiograph. Fractures of the sternum and ribs are sometimes detected as breaks on the chest x ray, though often dedicated bone films are needed. In some instances, the radiologist's view of the diaphragm may indicate an abdominal problem. Foreign bodies that may have been swallowed or inhaled can usually be located by the radiologist, as they will look different from any other tissue or structure in the chest. Serial chest x rays may be ordered to track changes over a period of time, usually to evaluate response to therapy of a malignancy.


Resources

organizations

American Lung Association. 1740 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. (800) 586–4872. http://www.lungusa.org .

Emphysema Anonymous, Inc. P.O. Box 3224, Seminole FL 34642. (813) 391–9977.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. P.O. Box 30105, Bethesda, MD 20824–0105. (301) 251–1222. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov .


Teresa Norris, RN Lee Shratter, MD

User Contributions:

1
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Sep 3, 2010 @ 8:08 am
chest x-ray and blood test mean and resuit,i want you to mail me back now
2
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Sep 9, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
I have seen 6 doctors with a very chesty cough,i can hear crackles in my chest.doctor a gave me amoxicillian for 5 days. Coughing worse so 2nd DR. gives me steroids for 5days but alas returned to same DR who gave me another lot of steroids. Blew up like a balloon and on finishing course went back toDR.Still coughing badly and wheezing he tells me im much better. This has been going on for 7weeks now ,last week more antibiotics for 5days. Went back to say nothing was working ,i was worse not better so no more antibiotics but sent for x-ray =chest.Got that done next day on the2nd aand was told my DR would have results in 3 days.Saw my DR ON 7TH BUT NO RESULTS. DR TOLD ME SHE COULDNT TREAT ME TILL RESULTS WERE IN. i WENT HOME AND RANG COBHAM HOSP FOR MY RESULTS. THEY WERE WITH MY DR. TEN MINUTES LATER. DOC RANG RE SOMEFLUID AT BOTTOM OF LUNGS
3
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Dec 2, 2010 @ 10:10 am
I M WASIM KHAN FROM QUETTA I READ THE X RAY AND I ENJOY IT
4
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Mar 19, 2011 @ 11:11 am
I am Mvuselelo from durban a student Radiographer, i feel happy to see that we have a major role to play in terms of madical diagnosis.
5
Deborah Stricland
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Nov 8, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
Diagnosis/indication from my CT scan on chest was: Abnormal chest CT(nodule& possible rib metastasis). Just exactly what does this mean to me?
6
JEN
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Dec 7, 2011 @ 10:10 am
I AM USING 8.5 LITERS OF OXYGEN AND STILL HAVE READINGS IN THE 70-80S I AM SPELLS WHERE WAVES OF WEAKNESS, DIZZINESS,LIGHTHEADEDNESS, RAPID HEART, LOW OXYGEN, AND WARMTH OVER WHOLE BODY. I HAVE TO LIE DOWN ASAP OR I WOULD FALL DOWN. I AM NOW THINKING THAT THE DIAPHRAGM MIGHT BE CONNECTED AS THIS HAPPENS IF I BEND FORWARD AT JUST A MINIMAL ANGLE. WHAT DOCTOR CAN I SEE TO GET HELP? I DO HAVE INTERSTITIAL LUNG DISEASES WHICH INCLUDE PH. ALSO, I AM HAVING PAIN IN CHEST THRU' TO MY BACK AND MY UPPER ABDOMAN. I ALSO, HAVE GASTROINTESTINAL PEROBLEMS.
7
Fady Mourice
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Jul 26, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
I HAVE MADE A CHEST X-RAY AND IT WAS SHOWING IN REPORT: INCREASE IN LINEAR PULMONARY MARKING AND THE BONY THORAX IS UNREMARKABLE.
THEN IN THE IMPRESSION: ACCENTUATED PULMONARY MARKINGS.
CAN SOMEONE TELL ME IF THE ABOVE IS SOMETHING BAD OR IT'S FINE.
THANKS
FADY
8
Aftab Hossain
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Apr 2, 2014 @ 2:02 am
In my wife's CXR, there is a comment 'Lung markings are increased'. Can you please explain/interpret this comment?
9
Nazir Sheikh
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Dec 31, 2014 @ 3:03 am
Chest x ray sometime shows white patches what are these patches
10
amin
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May 13, 2015 @ 2:02 am
How safe is X Ray for infant?

If we know XRay is bad than how come we use them to study the medical report?

Do I need to take pill for same.

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