Chest x-ray (summary)

Dr Henry Knipe and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Chest x-rays are performed frequently in the assessment of a vast number of sick (and potentially sick) patients. 

A chest x-ray can be performed in the radiology department (usually with the patient standing up) or by the bedside. The quality of the radiograph is vastly superior if performed in the department, but this is not always possible - especially when the patient is sick.

Reference article

This is a summary article; read more in our article on chest radiograph.


  • indications (acute)
    • breathlessness
    • chest pain
    • productive cough
    • cough and weight loss
    • focal chest signs
  • benefits
    • quick and accessible
    • a wide range of pathology can be identified
  • limitations
    • modest radiation dose
    • relatively insensitive for causes of pathology
  • procedure
    • PA
      • standing with chest facing detector
      • x-ray taken from behind the patient
    • AP
      • the detector placed behind patient's back
      • x-ray taken from the front
  • variations
    • erect chest x-ray
      • performed after sitting up for 10 minutes
      • used for the detection of free intraperitoneal gas
  • similar tests
    • CT chest
      • CT to include all of the lungs
      • use of contrast depends on the question being asked
        • when contrast is given timing is critical to answering the question
      • assessment of lung parenchyma and mediastinum​
Medical student radiology curriculum
Share article

Article information

rID: 42801
Systems: Chest, Cardiac
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

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

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.