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Chest X-Ray Test

Chest X-ray Test Overview

A chest X-ray test is a very common non-invasive radiology test that produces an image of the chest and the internal organs. To produce a chest X-ray test, the chest is briefly exposed to radiation from an X-ray machine and an image is produced on a film or into a digital computer. Chest X-ray is also referred to as a chest radiograph, chest roentgenogram, or CXR.

Depending on its density, each organ within the chest cavity absorbs varying degrees of radiation, producing different shadows on the film. Chest X-ray images are black and white with only the brightness or darkness defining the various structures. For example, bones of the chest wall (ribs and vertebrae) may absorb more of the radiation and thus, appear whiter on the film. On the other hand, the lung tissue, which is mostly composed of air, will allow most of the radiation to pass through, developing the film to a darker appearance. The heart and the aorta will appear whitish, but usually less bright than the bones, which are more denser.

Chest X-rays tests are ordered by physicians for a variety of reasons. Many clinical conditions can be evaluated by this simple radiology test. Some of the common conditions detected on a chest X-ray include pneumonia, enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, lung mass, rib fractures, fluid around the lung (pleural effusion), and air around the lung (pneumothorax). In general, a chest X-ray test is a simple, quick, inexpensive, and relatively harmless procedure with minimal risk of radiation. It is also widely available.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2014

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