What is a chest X-ray?
A chest X-ray is a picture of the heart, lungs and chest bones. But it doesn’t show the inside structures of the heart.
Why is it done?
A chest X-ray shows the location, size and shape of the heart, lungs and some blood vessels.
How is it done?
You will be positioned next to the X-ray film (a hospital gown may be worn over the chest). An X-ray machine is turned on for a fraction of a second. During this time, a small beam of X-rays passes through the chest and makes an image on special photographic film. Sometimes two pictures are taken — a front and side view. The X-ray film takes about 10 minutes to develop. Sometimes your cardiologist needs more than just the front and side chest X-rays.
Does it hurt, or is it harmful?
No, you won’t feel the X-rays as the pictures are taken.
The amount of radiation used in a chest X-ray is small — one-fifth the dose a person gets each year from natural sources such as the sun and ground. This small amount of radiation isn’t considered dangerous. However, pregnant women should avoid even this low level of radiation, when possible.