Chest x ray
A chest x ray is a procedure used to evaluate organs and structures within the chest for symptoms of disease. Chest x rays include views of the lungs, heart, small portions of the gastrointestinal tract, thyroid gland and the bonesof the chest area. X rays are a form of radiation that can penetrate the body and produce an image on an x ray film. Another name for x ray is radiograph.
Chest x-rays, or films, are frequently ordered to diagnose or rule out pneumonia. Other lung disorders such as tuberculosis, emphysema, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) may also be detected or evaluated through the use of chest x ray.
When cancer is suspected, a chest x ray may also be ordered by a physician tocheck for possible tumors of the lungs, thyroid, lymphoid tissue, or bones of the thorax. These may be primary tumors. X rays also check for secondary spread of cancer from one organ to another.
While less sensitive than echocardiography, chest x ray can be used to checkfor cardiac disorders that affect the size and shape of the heart, such as congestive heart failure.
Chest x rays may also be used to detect pneumothorax (presence of air or gasin the chest cavity), and to see foreign bodies that may have been swallowedor inhaled.
The chest x ray can be an important tool for evaluating the effectiveness oftreatment for a diagnosed condition. It is often used to verify the correct placement of chest tubes or catheters. In addition, chest x rays taken at regular intervals (serial x rays) are an important tool to measure how a patientis responding to treatment for lung disease and other medical conditions.
The chest x ray may be performed in a physician's office or referred to an outpatient radiology facility or hospital radiology department. In some cases,a portable x ray machine may be used to take chest films at a patient's bedside. There is no advance preparation necessary for chest x rays, however all jewelry and other metal objects must be removed from the neck and torso beforethe films are taken. Typically, the patient is asked to wear a hospital gownfor the procedure.
Routine chest x rays consist of two views. The frontal view (referred to as posterioranterior or PA), and the lateral (side) view. It is preferred that the patient stand for this exam, particularly when studying collection of fluidin the lungs.
During the actual time of exposure, the technologist will ask the patient tohold his or her breath to ensure there is no motion that could detract from the quality and sharpness of the film image. The procedure will only take a few minutes and the time patients must hold their breaths is a matter of a fewseconds.
A radiologist, or physician specially trained in the technique and interpretation of x rays, will view the x ray films and issue a written report of the findings. A normal chest x ray will show normal structures for the age and medical history ofthe patient. Abnormal findings on chest x rays are used in conjunction with physical exam findings, patient medical history and other diagnostic tests to reach a final diagnosis.
Pregnant women, particularly those in the first or second trimester, should not have chest x rays unless absolutely necessary. If the exam is ordered, women who are, or could possibly be, pregnant must wear a protective lead apron.Because the procedure involves radiation, care should always be taken to avoid overexposure, particularly for children. However, the amount of radiationfrom one chest x ray procedure is minimal.