A chest X-ray is a valuable tool to determine whether you have an infection. It can help a doctor determine what type of infection is present and the best treatment method.
A chest X-ray, or CXR, is an image taken of the chest that is used to diagnose various medical conditions. X-rays of the chest use radiation to generate images of the body and can help to determine if there is an infection of the chest wall, thorax, or parts of the thoracic cavity like the heart and lungs. This is the most common way to determine whether or not an infection is present inside the chest. Chest X-rays are also used to monitor treatment progress for a myriad of conditions.
A physician may order a single view or multiple X-ray views to provide a clear view of the chest. A radiologist may want to position you at different angles so that the X-ray can provide multiple images. Different views will help your physician focus on a certain area that might cause your symptoms and ensure that there is no infection present.
Causes of chest infections that would merit the use of an X-ray include a virus or Mycoplasma bacteria. When someone gets a chest infection due to one of these causes, they may experience fast and shallow breathing, difficulty breathing, coughing accompanied by a brown or green tinted phlegm, fever, sweating, chills, blue color around the lips, stomach pain, chest pain, headaches, aches, pains, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or a lethargic feeling. Viruses and bacteria cause conditions including bacterial pneumonia, pneumonia, pleurisy, severe acute respiratory syndrome, tuberculosis, mononucleosis, influenza and empyema.
Chest X-rays can be used to find lung conditions such as lung cancer, pleurisy, cystic fibrosis, a collapsed lung and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, but can also help determine if there is enlargement of the heart. They can also determine if a patient has black lung disease from exposure to coal dust. Although not all health conditions can be diagnosed through chest X-rays, they can help to provide evidence and determine if further testing is needed.
An X-ray is acquired when a radiology technician exposes a part of the body to a small amount of ionized radiation to produce images of the inside of your body. Radiology technicians can then look at the photograph of your chest and tell if there is any infection, bone fractures or breaks, or a small object lodged in the chest cavity. These things are apparent to the technician through swollen and/or enlarged lymph nodes, fluid around the heart or lungs, fluid in the lungs, obstructed airways due to any small object, enlarged blood vessels, hardening of the arteries, air around the lungs or a medical device that is not in the proper position. The risks involved are slight cell and/or tissue damage to the body, because of the low amount of radiation used to capture the image. There is no pain involved.