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Chest X-Ray

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?).

How It Is Done

A chest X-ray is taken by a radiology technologist. The pictures are usually read by a radiologist, who writes the report. Other types of doctors, such as a family medicine doctor, internist, or surgeon, also may review chest X-rays.

You will need to take off jewelry that might be in the way of the X-ray picture. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes above the waist (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not get in the way of the test). You will be given a gown to wear during the test.

Two X-ray views of the chest are usually taken. One view is taken from the back; the other view is taken from the side of the body. But other views may be needed, depending on what your doctor is looking for. In an emergency, only one picture may be taken, usually from the front.

You usually stand with your front against an X-ray plate for the pictures. If you need to sit or lie down, someone will help you get into the correct position.

You will need to hold very still during the X-ray to prevent blurring of the picture. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the X-ray picture is taken.

Most hospitals and some clinics have portable X-ray machines. If a chest X-ray is done with a portable X-ray machine at your bedside in a hospital, an X-ray technologist and nurse will help you move into the correct position. Usually only one picture from the front is taken.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 11, 2012
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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