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chest x-ray

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Site of chest X-ray

Chest X-ray (front and side views)

Alternative Names
x-ray of the chest, chest radiograph

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 examination 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 examination gown. The individual will be asked to remove all jewellery and metal objects that may interfere with the examination. A woman should inform the technologist if she is pregnant. The examination 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 examination. 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.

What is involved in preparation for the test?
There is no special preparation for a chest x-ray.

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 doctor will discuss abnormal results with the individual.

Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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