Chest radiography is a commonly used imaging diagnostic tool. It involves the use of chest radiographs, more commonly referred to as chest x rays. This is a widely used method of diagnosis for a wide range of conditions as it provides health care experts with images of the heart, lungs, large arteries, chest bones and spine. A chest radiograph can also reveal the presence of fluid in or around the lungs.
Chest radiography is commonly used not only in the diagnosis of various health conditions, but also used to monitor the progress of treatment. In such scenarios, a series of chest X-rays may be produced over a specific period of time to help track progression of a disease and response to treatment.
Chest X-ray films may not appear to reveal much when examined by a lay person, but this is because the individual is not trained to interpret the results. Technicians at the laboratory and doctors will be able to interpret chest X-ray results and give a better insight into what the test reveals.
When Do You Need a Chest X-Ray?
As is the case with any diagnostic test, you do not need to and should not get a test done unless your doctor has advised you to do so. Your health care provider will determine when an X-ray is required and will advise you accordingly. Doctors generally ask patients to first undergo chest radiography if they suspect any heart or lung disease, or if there is an injury in the region. There are certain circumstances under which you may be asked to do a chest x ray and these are:
If you have suffered from a persistent cough that does not respond to conventional treatment.
If you have suffered an injury to the chest.
If you have been experiencing chest pain and the cause is unknown.
If you have been experiencing difficulty breathing.
If traces of blood have been observed in the sputum or phlegm.
How Does a Chest X-Ray Help?
Chest radiography will help your health care provider arrive at a more accurate diagnosis, which is obviously the key to a successful treatment of any health condition. In other cases, it will help to rule out certain possible health conditions.
Lung Health: A chest radiograph will help in the detection of cancer, a respiratory tract infection, the accumulation of fluid in and around the lungs or pneumothorax, which is an abnormal accumulation of air in the area around a lung. It can also help reveal the presence of chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis or emphysema and other complications.