5 Things a Chest X-ray Can Reveal About Your Health

Nov 02, 2023
5 Things a Chest X-ray Can Reveal About Your Health
There’s a reason chest X-rays are a common exam; they can diagnose numerous issues in a safe and noninvasive way. Here are five things these tests can show about your health.

Most people associate X-rays with broken bones. And it’s true that a chest X-ray can detect fractures in your ribs and spine. However, these exams can reveal far more about your health than what’s going on with your bones.

Doctors often recommend a chest X-ray when someone has a chest injury, chest pain, or shortness of breath. That’s because this exam takes images of structures in your upper body, including:

  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Lungs and airways
  • Spine 

Plus, a chest X-ray is typically quick, painless, and comes with very few risks

As a result, our team at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, uses chest X-rays to diagnose a variety of lung and heart issues. However, we also use them to monitor treatments for these conditions. 

Do you need a chest X-ray? Here are five things they can show about your health.

1. Lung condition

A chest X-ray is a great way to evaluate the lungs for several issues, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Pleurisy
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung cancer

It can also show fluid in or around the lungs and air surrounding it that can lead to a collapsed lung.

2. Heart-related lung problems

Images captured during a chest X-ray can also identify changes in your lungs because of heart problems. For example, fluid in the lungs can occur from congestive heart failure.

3. Heart size and shape

In addition to lung changes, a chest X-ray can give us a closer look at the heart. Changes in the size and shape of this muscular organ can indicate the presence of fluid, heart failure, valve problems, and other issues.

4. Blood vessel issues

On top of the size and shape of your heart, a chest X-ray can also capture information about the large blood vessels near the organ. A chest X-ray can reveal aortic aneurysms, congenital heart disease, and even calcium deposits in the blood vessels.

Calcium deposits in the blood vessels near the heart can signal several things. For example, they can indicate the presence of substances — such as fats — in the blood vessels, and they can indicate that there is damage to essential heart structures.

5. Post-operative checks

Finally, it’s important to note that a chest X-ray can provide vital information when monitoring treatments for conditions. For example, checking for air leaks or fluid and air buildup after heart or lung surgery. 

Similarly, a chest X-ray can ensure the proper positioning of pacemakers, defibrillators, and catheters placed in the chest.

If you need a chest X-ray, our team can guide you through the process, so you can know exactly what to expect. Afterward, we review your images and discuss your results. Based on this information, we can determine the next steps for testing or treatment.

Could you benefit from a chest X-ray? Learn more by calling 815-584-0976 or booking an appointment online with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today.