Chest x-ray: initial review (summary)

This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Chest x-ray review is a key competency for medical students, junior doctors and other allied health professionals. Using A, B, C, D, E is a helpful and systematic method for approaching a chest x-ray. However, before jumping into the film, you need to do an initial review.

Reference article

This is a summary article; we do not have a more in-depth reference article.


  • who, what, where, why and when
    • who's film is it?
      • John Smith 12 Jan 1952
    • what are you looking at?
      • PA chest x-ray
    • where was it done?
      • ED
    • why was it done?
      • increased shortness of breath
    • when was it performed?
      • 21 Jun 2014 14:45
  • quality
    • rotation
      • medial ends of the clavicles equidistant from the spinous processes
    • inspiration
      • diaphragm at 10-11 posterior ribs on the left​
    • penetration
      • intervertebral discs of the mid-thoracic spine should be clearly visible
        • this is less important now than in the predigital film era, as digital images can be re-windowed
Medical student radiology curriculum
Share article

Article information

rID: 32476
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • ETT too low at carina
    Drag here to reorder.
  • ETT in RMB with left lung collapse
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Appropriate NG tube position
    Drag here to reorder.
  • NG tube in left main bronchus
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.