If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about chest X-rays too often, but if you need one, it’s good to know what they are and what they can do for you. A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses radiation to create images of the inside of your body. They’re often used to help diagnose lung and heart problems and other health conditions. They also allow doctors to monitor conditions over time. So if you’re feeling under the weather and your doctor orders a chest X-ray, know that it can help get you a precise diagnosis and on the road to recovery.
What is a chest X-ray?
A chest X-ray is a necessary diagnostic imaging test for many people. Radiation helps produce an image of various areas of the surrounding chest, such as the bones of the chest, heart, lungs, bronchi, aorta, arteries, and the middle of the chest. This is also a tool that can identify fluid in or around the lungs.
Some patients need multiple chest X-rays so physicians can obtain a baseline and track conditions over time. This type of X-ray is convenient, efficient, and provides life-saving information to doctors. Thankfully, chest X-rays only provide a minimal amount of radiation, which benefits those needing one.
If you get a chest X-ray, a radiologist technician performs it at your doctor’s office, if available, or at an outpatient hospital or imaging setting. Once the X-ray is complete, a radiologist will analyze the black-and-white image and send the results to your doctor’s office, who will be the one to contact you about the results.
Overall, a chest X-ray is a quick, easy, and painless process. Take advantage of this if you want to check on a health concern or if your doctor advises you to get one.
Why someone might need a chest X-ray
Anyone who goes to the doctor for chest pain, trouble breathing, or who has had an injury to the chest may be asked to get a chest X-ray. People with suspected pneumonia, such as in COVID cases, will go in for an X-ray so doctors can see what is going on in the lungs. This type of X-ray can also identify cancer, broken bones, hernias, specific heart problems, and emphysema, among other conditions.
Health experts at the Mayo Clinic reveal more specifically what information a chest X-ray can provide to doctors and their patients:
- Chest X-rays can show the condition of the lungs by detecting cancer, infection, or air collecting in the space around a lung. They can also show chronic lung conditions, such as emphysema or cystic fibrosis, and complications related to these conditions.
- Chest X-rays can show heart problems that are associated with the lungs. Congestive heart failure, for example, begins in the lungs. Doctors can also see fluid surrounding the lungs with this type of X-ray.
- Chest X-rays can show changes in the size and shape of your heart, which may indicate heart failure, fluid around the heart, or heart valve problems.
- Chest X-rays can reveal problems with the aorta and pulmonary arteries and veins. They can also show calcium deposits in the heart or lungs and damage to areas of the heart.
- Chest X-rays can identify rib or spine fractures or other problems with bone.
- Chest X-rays can help monitor post-operative recoveries in your chest, such as in your heart, lungs, or esophagus.
- Chest X-rays can monitor the placement of a pacemaker, defibrillator, or catheter to ensure everything is positioned correctly.
As you can see, this technology is an instrumental and a life-saving staple among doctors’ offices and hospitals. It is a fast way to identify problematic conditions, monitor ongoing medical issues, and determine necessary treatment paths.
In your lifetime, you may need a chest X-ray at some point. The testing is nothing to be afraid of, and the entire process is relatively efficient. Chest X-rays are ordinary and helpful for many reasons: They can reveal a lot about what’s happening inside our lungs, heart, and chest cavity. Plus, chest X-rays are often one of the best ways to understand what might be wrong before moving on to more invasive procedures. If you’re experiencing any lung issues or your doctor has recommended you get a chest X-ray, set up an appointment immediately.
The expert cardiologists at Cardiovascular Group throughout Gwinnett deal with heart-related conditions every day that may require a chest X-ray. Contact them if you have questions about your health concerns.