Doctors may recommend chest x rays for people who have symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, chronic cough (a cough that lasts a long time), or fever. The test can help find the cause of these symptoms.
Chest x rays look for conditions such as pneumonia, heart failure, lung cancer, lung tissue scarring, or sarcoidosis. The test also is used to check how well treatments for certain conditions are working.
Chest x rays also are used to evaluate people who test positive for tuberculosis (tu-ber-kyu-LO-sis) exposure on skin tests.
Sometimes, doctors recommend more chest x rays within hours, days, or months of an earlier chest x ray. This allows them to follow up on a condition.
People who are having certain types of surgery also may need chest x rays. Doctors often use the test before surgery to look at the structures inside the chest.