Chest X-Ray (CXR)

Is used to diagnose conditions affecting the chest, its contents, and nearby structures. It can help spot abnormalities or diseases of the airways, blood vessels, bones, heart, and lungs. Chest X-rays can also determine if you have fluid in your lungs, or fluid or air surrounding your lungs.

Parameters defined during the test

  • Lung structure
  • Lung volume
  • The presence of pulmonary vascular pattern
  • Lung hilus structure
  • The size and shape of the cardiac silhouette
  • The size of the aortic silhouette
  • Diaphragmatic cupula height
  • Intercostal space width
  • The presence of foreign body silhouette
  • Presence of fluid or air in pleural space
  • Rib contour
  • Pain in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bruising of the skin
  • Chronic or acute cough
  • Temperature rise
  • Hemoptysis
  • Weight loss
  • Traumatic injury of the chest
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • High blood pressure

Chest X-rays require very little preparation on the part of the patient.

You will need to remove any jewelry, eyeglasses, body piercings, or other metal on your person. Tell your doctor if you have a surgically implanted device, such as a heart valve or pacemaker. Your doctor may opt for a chest X-ray if you have metal implants. Other scans, such as MRIs, can be risky for people who have metal in their bodies.

Before the X-ray, you’ll undress from the waist up and change into a hospital gown.

How the procedure is performed

The X-ray occurs in a special room with a movable X-ray camera attached to a large metal arm. You will stand next to a “plate.” This plate may contain X-ray film or a special sensor that records the images on a computer. You’ll wear a lead apron to cover your genitals. This is because your sperm (men) and eggs (women) could be damaged from the radiation.

The X-ray technician will tell you how to stand and will record both front and side views of your chest. While the images are taken, you’ll need to hold your breath so that your chest stays completely still. If you move, the images might turn out blurry. As the radiation passes through your body and onto the plate, denser materials, such as bone and the muscles of your heart, will appear white.

After the images have been captured — which should take 20 minutes or so — your part is complete. You can change back into your clothes and go about your day.

 Abnormalities determined by CXR

  • Acute, chronic bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Pneumothorax
  • Hydrothorax
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Atelectasis
  • Cardiomegaly
  • Broken ribs

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