What is a chest X-ray?
A chest X-ray is a radiological examination conducted by using X-rays. The result is an image that shows the difference between bones and lung parenchyma compared to the soft tissues (muscles and skin). Bones are structures and therefore appear lighter and more compact than other tissues. Currently radiology techniques produce a digital image that is being run by computers and exam results are delivered to the patient in a digital format, usually on CD or DVD.
What is the purpose of a chest X-ray?
The chest X-ray is useful as an initial assessment, in case of:
- Infectious diseases of the lungs such as pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, pleurisy and tuberculosis
- Bronchitis resistant to drug therapies
- Abscesses and interstitial inflammation
- Autoimmune diseases of the lungs
- Pleural even mild
- Lung lesions of neoplastic nature
The evaluation of the thorax can highlight various malformations such as pectus carinatum and the pectus excavatum. In general, a chest X-ray is the first step toward monitoring and control. For a more accurate assessment a radiologist may recommend a diagnostic CT scan of the chest, which can be done with or without a contrast agent.
The X-ray does not require any special preparations. The patient is not expected to fast or discontinue any other current therapies. It is recommended that the patient wears comfortable clothes and removes any metal objects (necklace, rings, piercings).
Which patients can undergo a chest X-ray?
Anyone can undergo an X-ray examination except pregnant women.
Is the chest X-ray dangerous or painful?
Radiological examination is easy to perform; it is non-invasive and safe.
The effects and risks of radiation on the organism are well known, but the doses of radiation used to perform the examination and the exposure time is significantly reduced compared to previous years, which benefits the patients. The use of new screening procedures that help protect the most radiosensitive body areas have reduced risks further.
How is a chest X-ray performed?
The examination lasts about 5 minutes. The examination is conducted in an isolated room reserved only for X-ray equipment. The patient is asked to take a deep breath during the X-ray. Patients without mobility problems do not need to be accompanied and may return home immediately after the examination.