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Chest X-Ray

A chest X-ray is a picture of the chest that shows your heart, lungs, airway, blood vessels, and lymph nodes camera.gif. A chest X-ray also shows the bones of your spine and chest, including your breastbone camera.gif, your ribs, your collarbone camera.gif, and the upper part of your spine camera.gif. A chest X-ray is the most common imaging test or X-ray used to find problems inside the chest.

A chest X-ray can help find some problems with the organs and structures inside the chest. Usually two pictures are taken, one from the back of the chest and another from the side. In an emergency when only one X-ray picture is taken, a front view is usually done. Doctors may not always get the information they need from a chest X-ray to find the cause of a problem. If the results from a chest X-ray are not normal or do not give enough information about the chest problem, more specific X-rays or other tests may be done, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, an ultrasound, an echocardiogram, or an MRI scan.

Why It Is Done

A chest X-ray is done to:

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor if you are or might be pregnant. A chest X-ray usually is not done during pregnancy because the radiation could harm the unborn baby (fetus). But the chance of harm to the fetus is very small. If you need a chest X-ray, you will wear a lead apron to help protect your baby.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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