Chest x-ray: lines and tubes (summary)

Last revised by Anna Budzen on 1 Dec 2023
This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Chest x-ray lines and tubes can be easily assessed and should be the first thing that you look at when reviewing a chest x-ray. Assessment of their position is important, but they also give you an idea about how sick the patient is and narrow down the differential diagnosis.

Reference article

This is a summary article; we have a more in-depth reference article, see medical devices in the thorax.


  • always check lines and tubes first
    • cardiac monitor wires e.g. electrocardiogram (ECG) wires attached to ECG stickers on the chest
    • oxygen tubing
      • often draped across the center of the x-ray
    • oxygen mask/nebuliser
      • may be projected over the top of the x-ray
    • nasogastric (NG) tube
    • endotracheal tube (ETT) tube
    • venous lines, e.g. internal jugular vein (IJV) line,  peripherally-inserted central catheter (PICC)
    • cardiac devices, e.g. pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
    • intercostal catheters

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