Revision 4 for 'Chest x-ray (summary)'

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Chest x-ray (summary)

Chest x-rays are performed frequently in the assessment of a vast number of sick (and potentially sick) patients. 

A chest x-ray can be performed in the radiology department (usually with the patient standing up) or by the bedside. The quality of the radiograph is vastly superior if performed in the department, but this is not always possible - especially when the patient is sick.

Reference article

This is a summary article; read more in our article on chest radiograph.


  • indications (acute)
    • breathlessness
    • chest pain
    • productive cough
    • cough and weight loss
    • focal chest signs
  • important pathology
  • benefits
    • quick and accessible
    • wide range of pathology can be identified
  • limitations
    • modest radiation dose
    • relatively insensitive for causes of pathology
  • procedure
    • PA
      • standing with chest facing detector
      • x-ray taken from behind the patient
    • AP
      • detector placed behind patient's back
      • x-ray taken from the front
  • similar tests
    • erect chest x-ray
      • performed after sitting up for 10 minutes
      • used for the detection of free intraperitoneal gas
    • CT chest
      • performed contrast timed for the arterial system
      • assessment of lung parenchyma and mediastinum
    • CTPA
      • CT chest
      • pump-injected post-contrast examination
      • CT taken when contrast is within the pulmonary arteries
    • HRCT
      • non-contrast examination
      • assessment of lung parenchyma
      • may be performed as selected-slices or as a volume

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