Chest Radiography

Definition - What does Chest Radiography mean?

A chest radiography or a chest X-ray is a diagnostic process in which the chest cavity is exposed to a limited dosage of ionizing radiation for the purpose of getting radiographic images of the insides of the chest cavity.

This non-invasive medical test allows physicians access to images of the lungs, heart, spine, airways, and blood vessels. The objective is to study these images to diagnose and treat medical issues concentrated around the chest area. In terms of workplace health hazard studies and analysis, a chest radiography could be an essential tool to analyze the impact of toxic fumes and chemicals on the lungs of workers within an industrial setting.

Safeopedia explains Chest Radiography

A chest radiography is generally recommended by physicians when patients experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble with breathing
  • Chronic or acute coughing
  • Pain in the chest or injury to the chest area
  • High fever

Additionally, physicians are likely to utilize radiographic imaging to study, treat, and analyze the progress made in treating various conditions concentrated around the chest area, including but not limited to the following:

  • Pneumonia
  • Emphysema
  • Cancer of the lungs
  • Regulated inspection of medical devices within the chest cavity (i.e., pacemakers)
  • The collection of fluid or air within the lungs and chest cavity

The process of getting radiographic images of the chest cavity by means of a chest X-ray machine requires no special preparation for the individual being tested, unlike other diagnostic tests. The individual is simply positioned under a wall-mounted X-Ray machine on a bed or table. The X-ray machine consequently passes a small dosage of radiation through the individual’s chest cavity, which then records an image of this area on photographic film placed in a drawer under the table and positioned under the individual’s chest area.

An individual undergoing a chest X-ray may be required to wear minimal clothing in the form of a hospital gown. It should be noted also that chest X-rays are generally not recommended for pregnant women, unless measures are taken to minimize radiation exposure to the growing fetus within the womb.

In many instances, a chest X-ray can be performed in a standing position as well, depending on the kind of X-ray imaging equipment used. The individual undergoing the process may be required to stand with the chest placed against an image-recording plate, and radiation is then passed through the chest area. Physicians may also require an inverse image for better diagnostics and treatment, and as such, the individual undergoing a chest radiography may also be required to stand in an opposing position with the back against the image-collection plate.

The outcome of X-ray imaging is most easily analyzed when bone mass is exposed to radiation. The results of an X-ray image may be not be as conclusive when studying soft tissues. Bones easily absorb radiation, and as such, they produce clearer X-ray images; the same cannot be said of soft tissues. Bone mass appears as white on the X-ray image, while soft tissues appear as gray masses and air appears as black. Based on this imaging, physicians make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment and, in some cases, further testing may be required.

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