Chest X-RaysChest X-rays take images of the heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones. A chest X-ray is a type of diagnostic test that creates images of the heart, lungs, blood vessels, airways and bones. It’s typically one of the first tests that a doctor will do if you come to the hospital with chest pain or shortness of breath.
A chest X-ray can help diagnose a wide range of conditions dealing with the heart and lungs, including:
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lung cancer
- Lung infections
- Cystic fibrosis
- Collapsed lungs
- Enlarged heart
- Blood vessel problems
- Constrictive pericarditis
- Heart valve disorders
A chest X-ray generally doesn’t take more than a few minutes. A radiologist will typically take images from the front and the side of your body. You’ll be asked to remove all jewelry, eyeglasses and body piercings and to stand in front of a metal plate. This plate contains X-ray films or a special sensor to record images digitally.
To take X-rays of the front of the chest, you will stand with your chest against the plate with your hands over your head or on your hips. To take X-rays of the sides of the chest, you will stand with your shoulder against the plate and your hands over your head. For each X-ray image, you will be asked to take a deep breath and hold it; this produces the clearest X-ray images of the heart and lungs.
Radiation is a common worry when undergoing X-rays, but the amount of radiation you will be exposed to is minimal. In fact, you’re likely exposed to more radiation in the environment than during a chest X-ray.
While it’s considered safe to have a chest X-ray during pregnancy, talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or might be pregnant before having the test.
The results of the chest X-ray will be available within a few days, but in emergencies, they can be available within a few hours (or even sooner). A radiologist will interpret the X-ray to diagnose your condition and then your doctor will discuss the results with you.
Tampa General Hospital offers a wide range of state-of-the-art diagnostics to help patients understand and manage their health conditions. Chest X-rays are among the many diagnostic tests we offer to deliver the world-class care our patients deserve.