Chest images help diagnose and monitor disorders and disease

A chest X-ray is a painless test involving use of electromagnetic waves to produce images of areas in and around your chest, and to determine the size, shape and location of the heart, lungs, spine, blood vessels and airways. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray if you have symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, fever or chest injury.

X-rays are often used to diagnose conditions, such as lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia and heart failure as well as determine whether you have fluid in your lungs. A chest X-ray can also help your doctor determine the effectiveness of certain treatments or check for postsurgical complications. While effective in diagnosing many disorders and diseases, the X-ray is not able to detect blood clots (pulmonary embolism) or small cancers. You may require additional testing to rule out other possible conditions.

If you are pregnant or think you might be, be sure to tell your doctor. Due to the small amount of radiation exposure during an X-ray, there is some concern that the procedure may harm an unborn fetus. Your doctor can explain the benefits vs. risks based on your particular condition, and together you can decide the best approach for you.

You will likely wear a hospital robe during the X-ray. Views of the chest are taken from the front and from the side while you are standing up. If you have difficulty standing, the X-ray will be taken while you’re lying down. The entire process takes about 15 minutes and the results will be communicated to your doctor, generally the same or next day. Your doctor will then go over your results with you and discuss any next steps.

To schedule a chest X-ray appointment at Main Line Health, call 484.580.1800.