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Chest X-Rays: About These Tests

What is it?

A chest X-ray is a picture of the chest that shows your heart, lungs, airway, blood vessels, and lymph nodes. Chest X-rays can also show the bones of your spine and chest.

Why is this test done?

A chest X-ray is done to find problems with the organs and structures inside the chest.

How can you prepare for the test?

  • Tell your doctor if you are or might be pregnant. A chest X-ray is usually not done during pregnancy, but the chance of harm to the fetus is very small. If you need a chest X-ray during pregnancy, you will wear a lead apron to help protect your baby.

What happens before the test?

  • Remove any jewellery that might get in the way of the X-ray picture.
  • You may need to take off all or most of your clothes above the waist. You will be given a gown to wear during the test.

What happens during the test?

Two X-ray views of the chest are usually taken. One view is taken from the back. The other view is taken from the side.

  • You stand with your chest against an X-ray plate for the pictures.
  • You will need to hold very still while the X-ray is taken. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.

What else should you know about the test?

  • You won't feel any pain from the chest X-ray itself.
  • If you have pain from a chest problem, you may feel some discomfort if you need to hold a certain position, breathe deep, or hold your breath while the X-ray is done.

How long does the test take?

  • The test will take about 10 minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away. The results of a chest X-ray are usually available in 1 to 2 days.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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