A chest X-ray provides a picture of the heart and lungs. Although COPD cannot be diagnosed with a chest X-ray alone, it can help your doctor evaluate shortness of breath, help support a diagnosis of COPD, and detect advanced emphysema.
A chest X-ray is done at the time of initial diagnosis of COPD. Although routine follow-up chest X-rays are not usually done, many doctors advise smokers and recent ex-smokers to have this test every 1 to 2 years.
Abnormal chest X-ray findings are usually not seen until COPD is severe. In this case, the X-ray may show:
Flattening of the diaphragm, the large muscle that separates the lungs and heart from the abdominal cavity.
Increased size of the chest, as measured from front to back.
A long narrow heart.
Abnormal air collections within the lung (focal bullae).