What a Chest X-Ray Can Tell Us

Apr 10, 2024
What a Chest X-Ray Can Tell Us
A chest X-ray is a quick and painless way to take a picture of your upper body, providing valuable information about your heart, lungs, airways, blood vessels, and bones. Read on to learn more.

A chest X-ray is a screening tool doctors request for a variety of reasons. For instance, you may need a chest X-ray if you end up in the emergency room with chest pain or shortness of breath. 

However, health care providers also use chest X-rays to diagnose and monitor conditions associated with the heart and lungs. 

Symptoms that a chest X-ray can help diagnose include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever with additional signs of infection

Dr. Dennis F. Kellar and his team perform chest X-rays regularly at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois. 

Here are a few things this imaging test can tell us about your health. 

How chest X-rays work

To start, a chest X-ray basically takes a picture of the inside of your chest. Its purpose is to capture information about the organs and structures inside, including the:

  • Heart and aorta
  • Lungs and bronchi
  • Pulmonary arteries
  • Bones in the chest and spine

These images provide insight into the size, shape, and location of these structures, as well as the presence of fluid.

Based on this information, our team can detect numerous types of breathing and pulmonary disorders, lung disease, and heart issues.

Conditions a chest X-ray can reveal

Our team can diagnose and monitor a variety of conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pleurisy
  • Tuberculosis
  • Collapsed lung 
  • Lung cancer
  • Blood vessel problems
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Fractures and ribcage injuries

We can also use a chest X-ray to monitor recovery after chest surgery or the placement of pacemakers, defibrillators, and catheters.

What to expect from a chest X-ray

Hearing you need a medical test can be disconcerting, especially if it involves X-ray technology. 

However, these exams involve only low exposure to radiation. In fact, it’s even lower than naturally occurring sources you come in contact with in the environment. But it’s important to tell our team if you are or could be pregnant.

A chest X-ray is also painless and requires little preparation. In most cases, you simply undress from the waist up and remove any jewelry. Then, you put on a gown.

We have you sit, stand, or recline in different positions so we can capture different views. When we take the picture, you remain still and hold your breath for a few seconds; that helps your heart and lungs show up better in the images.

The entire process is quick and painless, and you can resume regular activity immediately afterward.

After your chest X-ray, our team reviews the results. Based on our findings, we can outline how to proceed if you need treatment or additional testing.

Do you have chest or breathing symptoms? Our team has the tools and experience to reach a diagnosis and manage your condition. To schedule a consultation, contact Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today by calling 815-584-0976 or booking online.