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The ABCs of a Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays are the most commonly ordered X-rays in the World. It has a good diagnostic value (As most of the vital organs are covered in a Chest X-ray) and gives a relatively low radiation dose. HOWEVER, not all coughs or fever requires a Chest X-ray. Due to its involvement with radiation, Doctors are still advised strongly to order only when necessary.

The most common use of a Chest X-ray will be to furtherevaluate a patient when he suffers from Chest Pain, fever, persistent cough or shortness of breath.

Chest X-ray mainly covers the following organs/ parts of your body:

Why was I instructed to breathe in and hold my breath during X-ray?

Do not be alarmed! We are not exposing you to any harmful particles during a Routine Chest X-ray. A Chest X-ray of excellent diagnostic value will take more than just a good Radiographer to achieve. It will also require the co-operation of the patient to follow the inspiration instruction. By having a full inspiration, the lungs will be enlarged and organs such as the lungs and the heart will then be visualized clearer and hence reduce the chances of having a wrong diagnosis.

Why was I instructed to breathe in and hold my breath during X-ray?

Do not be alarmed! We are not exposing you to any harmful particles during a Routine Chest X-ray. A Chest X-ray of excellent diagnostic value will take more than just a good Radiographer to achieve. It will also require the co-operation of the patient to follow the inspiration instruction. By having a full inspiration, the lungs will be enlarged and organs such as the lungs and the heart will then be visualized clearer and hence reduce the chances of having a wrong diagnosis.

Why was I told to change out of my clothes before a Chest X-ray?

Do not be alarmed again! Changing out from your clothes will prevent unwanted “marks” (Artefacts) in your Chest X-ray! The density of your clothes, buttons and necklaces are of different density as compared to your ribs, lungs and heart. Therefore any other materials exposed by the X-ray machine will be captured and seen on the X-ray image, which might cause the Doctor to misdiagnose and in turn treat you for an illness that you probably do not have!

Below is an image of a Chest X-ray with a “harmless” bra on

 

So what can be evaluated from a Chest X-ray?

A well performed standing Chest X-ray can be used to detect:

· BROKEN RIBS, from trauma or any blunt forces.

· EMPHYSEMA, in which the air sacs are damaged and enlarged and causes shortness of breath. It is also a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and usually associated with smoking or inhalation of excessive smoke.

· HEART issues such as Cardio-megaly.

· LUNG CANCER

· PNEUMONIA, which is the infection of either one or both lungs, can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. It caused the inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs which makes it hard for one to breathe.

· PNEUMOTHORAX is the collection of free air in the chest cavity which causes the lungs to collapse.

All of these medical conditions will potentially be life-threatening if left untreated and hence proves just how useful and important a Chest X-ray can be!

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