One of the most commonly effective ways to diagnose a disease is the chest X-ray. Usually, chest X-rays are performed to get images of your heart, lungs, blood vessels, airways, and the bones of your chest and spine. Chest X-rays also show fluid in or around your lungs. Thus, a chest x-ray can also be used to determine whether a particular treatment is working. When you need to go to your doctor or the emergency room due to chest pain, a chest injury, etc., you might require a chest X-ray. A good image helps your doctor detect the actual cause of the chest pain. Your doctor will be able to determine whether you have heart problems, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, broken ribs, emphysema, cancer, etc.
A series of chest X-rays can help you and the doctor track whether your specific health condition is improving or deteriorating.
Why is chest x-ray done?
Chest X-rays are a very common type of exam. This usually is the first procedure one undergoes if your doctor suspects a heart or lung disease. It can help the doctor understand how you are responding to treatment.
How can the chest X-ray help?
Here are a few things the chest X-ray can help you detect:
State of your lungs
The chest X-rays detect cancer. It can detect infection or air collecting in the space around a lung. They can also reveal any type of chronic lung condition. These comprise of emphysema or cystic fibrosis, complications related to these conditions, etc.
Lung issues that are related to the heart
Usually, chest X-rays are able to reveal changes in your lungs that mainly are caused due to heart-related issues. This can include fluid in your lungs that have been caused due to congestive heart failure.
Size and outline of your heart
If the size and shape of your heart go through changes, it might indicate heart failure, fluid around the heart or other heart valve problems.
Now, the outlines of the large vessels lie near your heart. So, large blood vessels are visible on X-rays. Their presence might reveal aortic aneurysms, other blood vessel problems or congenital heart disease. The large vessels are inclusive of the aorta and pulmonary arteries and veins.
Chest X-rays can help the doctor detect the presence of calcium in your heart or blood vessels. In such cases, the damage to your heart valves, coronary arteries, heart muscle or the protective sac that surrounds the heart will be revealed clearly. Usually, the calcium deposits are from an old infection that had not been fully cured.
There are a certain rib or spine fractures with the bone that might be seen on a chest X-ray.
Changes after operation
With chest X-rays, your doctor can monitor your recovery once you’ve had surgery in your chest. This can be applicable for your heart, lungs or esophagus. All of the lines or tubes that were placed can be visible at the time of the surgery. This is useful to detect air leaks and areas of fluid.
A pacemaker, defibrillator or catheter
In usual, pacemakers and defibrillators have wires that are attached to your heart. This Cis to ensure that your heart rate and rhythm are normal. Catheters are little tubes that are generally used to deliver medications or for dialysis. In usual, a Digital X-ray in Perth is taken right after placement of such medical devices. This helps the doctor to confirm that everything is just positioned properly.
What are the risks involved?
The major concern can be radiation exposure from chest X-rays. Having them regularly can cause more risk. However, the good news is that the amount of radiation from a chest X-ray is low. This is lower than what you are exposed to through natural sources of radiation.
Usually, you are given a protective apron in case you need more than one image. You must tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or might be pregnant. The procedure can be performed to protect your abdomen from the radiation.
How to prepare for Chest X-ray?
Prior to the chest X-ray, you need to undress from the waist up. You would be required to wear an exam gown. Also, you will have to get rid of jewelry from the waist up. After all, clothing and jewelry can hamper the X-ray images to a large extent.
What to expect from a chest X-ray?
When the procedure takes place, your body has to be positioned between a machine. The machine usually generates X-rays and a plate. This plate mainly forms the image digitally or with X-ray film. You need to move into different positions. This is important to take views from both the front and the side of your chest. When in the front view, you need to stand against the plate, hold your arms up or to the sides and roll your shoulders forward. The X-ray technician might ask you to take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds. This way your heart and lungs show up more clearly.
At the time of the side views, you need to turn and place one shoulder on the plate and raise your hands over your head. You need to take a deep breath and hold it. Keep in mind that X-rays taken is free from any pain. However, you might have a bit of difficulty in standing.
What are the harmful effects of X-ray?
Usually, the exposure to radiation heightens the chances of cancer by 40%, of developing tumor by 50% and of leukemia by 70%. Thyroid glands are known victims of x-rays as well. They are pretty much sensitive to radiation. Due to this, excessive exposure to radiation can lead to various thyroid conditions.
At the time of exposure to x-rays, a person is at the risk of developing genetic damage that could turn hereditary. There are certain diseases such as diabetes, high BP, coronary heart disease, strokes and cataracts that are linked to the exposure to x-rays.