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Chest radiograph zones

Dr Andrew Dixon and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

The chest radiograph zones are useful when describing the location of pathology on a frontal chest radiograph.

The chest radiograph is a 2D representation of a 3D structure. Since the interfaces between the lobes are oriented obliquely, it is often not possible to determine which lobe pathology is located in or whether it is located anteriorly or posteriorly. Hence, describing the location of pathology using the four-zone technique is helpful:

It is recommended to use the zones loosely while reporting as the distinctions are arbitrary and do not correspond to anatomic structures 1.

Additional lung regions or zones that may be referred to on chest radiography include:

  • retrocardiac zone: right and left behind the heart
  • retrodiaphragmatic: right and left behind the hemidiaphragms 

See also

Chest

Article information

rID: 13648
System: Chest
Section: Approach
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • 4-zones on a chest radiograph

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: normal CXR
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  • Figure 2: apical zone
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  • Figure 3: upper zone
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  • Figure 4: mid zone
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  • Figure 5: lower zone
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