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Chest X-ray
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Chest X-ray Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


A chest x-ray is an image of the heart and lungs. A small dose of radiation is used to create the image. It is one of the most common medical tests done.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

You will be asked to remove all jewelry from the waist up. You will also put on a hospital gown. A lead apron may be placed over your abdomen and pelvis. This is done to minimize the risk of radiation.

Description of Test

Pictures are usually taken from two different views, a side view and a front view. An x-ray technician will position you according to the type of x-ray machine used. In most cases, you will stand against the x-ray machine with your hands up or to the side. You will be asked to take a deep breath and hold it while the x-ray is being taken. You will also be asked to stay as still as possible when the film is taken. You may notice that the film cartridge feels cool to your skin.

After Test

You will be able to leave after the test is done.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10-15 minutes

Will It Hurt?



A radiologist (a doctor who specializes in x-rays) will look at your x-ray and send a report to your doctor. Results are generally available in 1-2 days.

An abnormal x-ray may require further testing, including:

  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Biopsy —removal of a sample of tissue



American Heart Association

Radiology Info


Health Canada

Radiology for Patients


Chest. Radiological Society of North America. Radiography website. Available at: . Accessed on July 11, 2008.

Chest x-rays: sorting out problems in your chest. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: . Accessed on July 11, 2008.

Zaret BL, Jatlow PI, and Katz LD. The Yale University School of Medicine Patient’s Guide to Medical Tests. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company; 1997: 134-136.



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