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Chest X-Ray (cont.)

Normal Chest X-ray

As mentioned earlier, the image on chest X-ray film is in shades of black and white, similar to a negative of a regular photograph. The shadows on a chest X-ray test depend on the degree of absorbed radiation by the particular organ based on its composition. Bony structures absorb the most radiation and appear white on the film. Hollow structures containing mostly air, such the lungs, normally appear dark. In a normal chest X-ray, the chest cavity is outlined on each side by the white bony structures that represent the ribs of the chest wall. On the top portion of the chest is the neck and the collar bones (clavicles). On the bottom, the chest cavity is bordered by the diaphragm under which is the abdominal cavity. On either side of the chest wall, the bones of the shoulders and arms are easily recognizable.

Inside the chest cavity, the vertebral column can be seen down the middle of the chest, splitting it nearly in equal halves. On each side of the midline, the dark appearing lung fields are seen. The white shadow of the heart is in the middle of the field, atop the diaphragm and more to the left side. The trachea (wind pipe), aorta (main blood vessel exiting the heart), and the esophagus descend down the middle, overlapping the vertebral column.

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