A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.
Chest radiography; Serial chest x-ray; X-ray - chest
How the test is performed
The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider's office by an x-ray technician. Two views are usually taken: one in which the x-rays pass through the chest from the back (posterior-anterior view), and one in which the x-rays pass through the chest from one side to the other (lateral view). You stand in front of the machine and must hold your breath when the x-ray is taken.
How to prepare for the test
Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. Chest x-rays are generally avoided during the first six months of pregnancy. You must wear a hospital gown and remove all jewelry.
How the test will feel
There is no discomfort. The film plate may feel cold.
Why the test is performed
Your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you have any of the following symptoms:
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 risk is very low compared with the benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.
Stark P. Imaging in pulmonary disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 84.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.