What is a chest X-ray?

A chest X-ray is a picture of the heart, lungs and bones of the chest.

Why is it done?

A chest X-ray can help your doctor determine if your heart is an unusual shape or if it is larger than it should be. It can also help confirm the presence of a valve disorder and provide important detailed information about your condition and its seriousness. Chest X-rays are useful for diagnosing an enlargement of the heart (cardiomyopathy) or heart failure.

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What can you expect?
  • No special preparation is necessary.
  • Having chest X-rays is completely painless and only takes a few minutes.
  • Wearing a hospital gown, you will be asked to lie on an X-ray table and a technologist will help to position you properly.
  • You will have to hold your breath and lie very still for two to three seconds.
  • The X-ray machine is turned on briefly, letting a small beam of X-rays pass through your chest to create an image on special X-ray film.
  • Sometimes two pictures are taken – a front and side view.
  • The X-ray film takes about 10 minutes to develop.

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