Chest x-ray - airway

Case contributed by Jeremy Jones


After initial assessment of the film, lines and tubes, review the airway. Just concentrate on the trachea and main bronchi at first.

Patient Data

Age: 30 years
Gender: Male
Annotated image
  • check the trachea is in the midline and that there is no narrowing
  • ensure the carina isn't too wide
  • trace down the trachea in the midline and continue down the right main bronchus
  • trace across the carina and down the left main bronchus

Case Discussion

After the initial review, look at the airways. A mass in the left hemithorax may displace the trachea to the right, e.g. pleural effusion or tension pneumothorax. Lung collapse will cause the trachea to be pulled towards the side of volume loss.

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