Brief Description – A chest x-ray is an imaging test that shows details of the chest and its internal structures like the lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm. It is one of the commonest tests done in the hospital and is very affordable.
Why the Test is Performed
Your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A persistent cough
- Chest pain from a chest injury (with a possible rib fracture or lung complication) or from heart problems
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing
- FeverIt may also be done if you have signs of tuberculosis, lung cancer, or other chest or lung diseases. A serial chest x-ray is one that is repeated. It may be done to monitor changes found on a past chest x-ray.How the Test is Performed
You will be naked from the waist up then stand in front of the x-ray machine. A film plate will be placed on your chest or back depending on the view your doctor requested. You will be told to hold your breath when the x-ray is taken. Two images are usually taken. You will first need to stand facing the machine, and then sideways.
How to Prepare For the Test
Before the x-ray, be sure to let your doctor know any of the following:
- If you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant. Chest x-rays are generally not done during the first 6 months of pregnancy.
- Have had a barium contrast media x-ray in the last 4 days
- If you are on any medication for any medical condition. Some of such drugs may affectthe x-ray. A typical example is Pepto Bismol
You must remove all jewellery and sign an informed consent form.
During the Test
There is no discomfort. The film plate may feel cold.
After the Test
After completion of the test, you should discuss with your doctor when you can resume any medications you may have suspended. Any lifestyle adjustments will be based on the results of the test.
There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.