A chest X-ray is ordered by your physician to help diagnose certain conditions, as well as to check on your heart and lungs. X-rays are made using external radiation to produce images of the body’s bones and internal organs. When the X-ray machine is turned on, the X-rays pass through the body onto specialty plates to capture the image in black and white. Bones are dense and therefore appear white on the X-ray film, while soft tissue in the body usually appears dark gray.

What to expect during a chest X-Ray

Preparing for your procedure

You might be asked to change into a hospital gown prior to your chest X-ray. Make sure to remove all buttons, zippers, jewelry, bra clasps and any other kind of metal that could show up on the X-ray. Make sure to tell the technologist if you are pregnant or if there is a chance you might be pregnant before the X-ray is taken.

During your procedure

During your chest X-ray, the technologist will position you next to the X-ray film for two separate pictures. For the first picture, you will stand facing a board and roll your arms forward, pushing your shoulder blades apart. The technologist will instruct you to take a deep breath and then hold it while he or she takes the picture. For the second picture, you will stand with your left side against the board and your arms raised above your head. The technologist will help place you in the exact position in order to get the clearest X-ray picture possible.

After your procedure

Once the technologist has taken your X-rays, you will be asked to wait a few minutes until the film is developed. This helps to ensure that the technologist took clear pictures that can be read by a radiologist.

Once you are free to go, you can resume normal daily activities. A report of the test will be sent to your physician, who will contact you to discuss your chest X-ray results.

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