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A chest X-ray is an imaging test that uses X-rays to look at the structures and organs in your chest. It can help your healthcare provider see how well your lungs and heart are working. Certain heart problems can cause changes in your lungs. Certain diseases can cause changes in the structure of the heart or lungs.
Chest X-rays can show your healthcare provider the size, shape, and location of the following:
It uses a small amount of radiation to make pictures of these areas.
Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray to see how well your heart or lungs are working. You may need a chest X-ray if it is suspected that you have any of the following:
You may also need a chest X-ray:
These other devices include central venous catheters, endotracheal tubes, chest tubes, and nasogastric tubes.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a chest X-ray.
You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the test. Also ask about the risks as they apply to you.
Consider writing down all X-rays you get, including past scans and X-rays for other health reasons. Show this list to your healthcare provider. The risks of radiation exposure may be tied to the number of X-rays you have and the X-ray treatments you have over time.
Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
You may have other risks depending on your specific health condition. Talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.
You may have a chest X-ray as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.
Generally, a chest X-ray follows this process:
The chest X-ray is not painful. But you may have some discomfort or pain from moving into different positions if you have had recent surgery or an injury. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and do the scan as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.
You do not need any special care after a chest X-ray. Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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