Chest X-Ray

A chest X-ray is a fast and painless imaging test that uses certain electromagnetic waves to create pictures of the structures in and around your chest.

This test can help diagnose and monitor conditions such as pneumonia, heart failure, lung cancer, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and lung tissue scarring, called fibrosis. Doctors may use chest X-rays to see how well certain treatments are working and to check for complications after certain procedures or surgeries.

The test may be done in the doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, or other medical facility. Before having a chest X-ray, you will undress from the waist up, wear a gown, and remove jewelry and objects that could interfere with the test. You will stand, sit, or lie still for the test. A lead apron may be worn to protect your reproductive organs from the X-ray. The technician will operate the X-ray machine from behind a wall or in the next room. Usually, the technician takes two views, one from straight on and one from the side of your chest, but more views may be taken. A radiologist will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor.

Chest X-rays have few risks. The amount of radiation used in a chest X-ray is very small. Talk to your doctor and the technicians performing the test about whether you are or could be pregnant. If the procedure is not urgent, they may have you wait to do the test until after your pregnancy. If it is urgent, the technicians will take extra steps to protect your baby during this test.

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