Having a chest X-ray

Chest X-ray
  • A chest X-ray is a simple procedure usually performed standing. In certain circumstances they can be done sitting or lying down.
  • It is very quick and there should be no discomfort.
  • The patient may be asked to remove jewellery or some clothing and will be offered a gown to wear during the X-ray.
  • The patient will be asked to take a deep breath in and to hold it for a few seconds.


Image: © Crown Copyright

What can an X-ray reveal?

A Chest X-Ray (CXR) is usually one of the first tests done to investigate someone who has a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fever or who has had an injury to their chest wall or suspicion of cancer.

A CXR can show signs of:

  • lung infection, collapsed lung, fluid in the lungs or rib fractures.
  • signs of diseases such as emphysema, lung fibrosis, cancer, heart failure.
  • to confirm the position of medical devices like pacemakers, chest drains, indwelling pleural catheters and central lines.

CXR can also be used to monitor certain chest conditions such as recovery from pneumonia.

If a CXR is inconclusive or additional information is required a scan may be required.