A chest x-ray outlines the heart, lungs, and ribs. It can be ordered when a
patientís symptoms include chest pain and/or shortness of breath. Chest X-rays
image your heart and surrounding chest anatomy, show your heart size and shape,
and reveal whether your heart is misshaped or enlarged due to disease. Hardened
blockages due to cholesterol buildup in the main blood vessels, aortic aneurysms
and fluid in the lungs may also be seen. Chest X-rays can
also be used to image pacemakers and artificial heart valves to check for
correct positioning. It is the most common x-ray performed. Radiation
exposure is minimal. As with any x-ray, please be sure to tell your physician if
you think you might be pregnant.
Do not eat any solid foods for 4 hours prior to exam. Drink a minimum of 1 quart
of water before arriving for the exam.
The patient will be asked to wear a hospital gown and remove all jewelry. They
will then stand with their chest pressed against a photographic plate. The
technologist taking the x-rays will ask the patient to be still and hold their
breath. This helps produce a clear, better quality image. The technologist will
go into another room to activate the equipment. A beam of x-rays will come from
behind the patient, through the patientís chest and onto the film plate. The
remove the film and put new one in. The same test will be used with the patient
standing sideways. There is no discomfort but the film plate may feel cold.
The films will be viewed by a Radiologist, a physician specializing in x-ray,
who interprets the results.