Chest X-ray (cont.)
Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Chest X-ray facts
- What is a chest X-ray?
- What is a shadow on a chest X-ray?
- How is the chest X-ray procedure performed?
- How do doctors interpret chest X-rays?
- Where are chest X-ray's performed?
- What are the risks of a chest X-ray?
- What are reasons for ordering chest X-rays?
- Who can interpret chest X-rays?
- What can be seen on a normal chest X-ray?
- What are some common chest X-ray abnormalities?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
How is the chest X-ray procedure performed?
Patients obtaining a chest X-ray will often be requested to use an X-ray gown, and extra metallic objects such as jewelry are removed from the chest and/or neck areas. These objects can block X-ray penetration, making the result less accurate. Patients may be asked to take a deep breath and hold it during the chest X-ray in order to inflate the lungs to their maximum, which increases the visibility of different tissues within the chest.
The chest X-ray procedure often involves a view from the back to the front of the body as well as a view from the side. The view from the side is called a lateral chest X-ray. Occasionally, different angles are added in order for the radiologist to interpret certain specific areas of the chest.
The radiology technologist or technician is a trained, certified assistant to the radiologist who will help the patient during the X-ray and actually perform the X-ray test procedure. After the chest X-ray is taken and recorded on the X-ray film, the film is placed into a developing machine, and this picture (which is essentially a photographic negative) is examined and interpreted by the radiologist.
How do doctors interpret chest X-rays?
A radiologist is a physician specialist trained to interpret images of the body produced on films. After the films are produced by the technician they are developed and reviewed by the radiologist for interpretation. After the radiologist reviews the chest X-ray, occasionally further images or angles may be necessary. Once all the films have been reviewed by the radiologist, a report is generated which is transmitted to the ordering practitioner.
The doctors interpreting the films place the films in front of a source of light for better visualization of the shadows on the chest X-ray. This usually consists of a fluorescent light source placed in metal box and covered by a white plastic.
More recently, newer technology has replaced this old reading technique in many health care facilities and radiology offices. This advanced technology has eliminated the need for the actual physical films to be placed on a light box for interpretation. The images, once taken and developed, are uploaded into a computer with special software that enables digital images to be viewed on a computer screen. The doctor can look at the images on the screen, interpret the results, and comment on the computer all within minutes after the images were taken.
Additionally, this technology may allow for ability to look at any previous images taken from the same patient. It also essentially eliminates the possibility of lost X-rays and speeds up the interpretation of X-rays, and the communication between doctors about the results.
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