X-ray Education

The chest x-ray is performed to evaluate the lungs, heart and chest wall.

A chest x-ray is typically the first imaging test used to help diagnose symptoms such as:

• Cough-R05
• Wheezing-R06.02
• Shortness Of Breath-R06.02
• Fever-R50.9
• Congestion-R09.81
• Chest Pain-R07.1
• Rule Out Tuberculosis-R76.11
• PICC Placement or Removal Z45.2
• Hypoxemia / Low SpO2-R09.02
• Aspiration-J69.0
• Encounter for preprocedural cardiovascular examination-Z01.810
• Change in Mental Status-Z41.89
• Elevated White Blood Cell Count (WBC)-D72.829

Physicians use the examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as:

pneumonia.
heart failure and other heart problems.
emphysema.
lung cancer.
positioning of medical devices.
fluid or air collection around the lungs.
other medical conditions..

The abdominal x-ray is often the first imaging test used to evaluate and diagnose the source of acute pain in the abdominal region and/or lower back as well as unexplained nausea and vomiting.

• Abdominal Pain-R10.84
• Distension-R14.0
• Constipation-K59.01
• Vomiting-R11.14
• G-Tube Placement-Z93.1
• Fecal Impaction-K56.41

Abdominal x-ray is also performed to help diagnose conditions such as:

Kidney and bladder stones and gallstones
Intestinal blockages
perforation of the stomach or intestine
ingestion of foreign objects
abdominal aortic aneurysm
Abdominal x-ray may also be used to help properly place catheters and tubes used for feeding or to decompress organs such as the gallbladder and kidneys.

The upper extremity includes the fingers, hand, wrist, elbow, forearm, upper arm and shoulder. An upper extremity X-ray is a test that uses radiation to produce detailed images of the bones of the upper extremity. During an X-ray, a black-and-white image is recorded on special film or on a computer. The image looks like a negative from a black and white photograph.

X-rays work because the body’s tissues vary in density (thickness). Each type of tissue allows a different amount of radiation to pass through and expose the X-ray-sensitive film. Bones, for example, are very dense, and most of the radiation is prevented from passing through to the film. As a result, bones appear white on an X-ray. Tissues that are less dense–such as the lungs, which are filled with air–allow more of the X-rays to pass through to the film and appear on the image in shades of gray.

Why is an upper extremity X-ray ordered?
An upper extremity X-ray may be ordered to evaluate for various injuries and conditions, including:

Fractures (breaks)
Dislocations (joints that are pulled or pushed out of their normal position)
Arthritis
Unexplained swelling or pain
Bone deformities
Tumors (abnormal masses of cells)
Infections
In addition, an upper extremity X-ray may be used after treatment to ensure that a fracture has been properly aligned and stabilized for healing.

An X-ray is a test that uses radiation to produce images of the bones and organs of the body. Spine X-rays provide detailed images of the bones of the spine, and can be taken separately for the three main parts of the spine–cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar (lower back).

During an X-ray, a focused beam of radiation is passed through your body, and a black-and-white image is recorded on special film or a computer.

X-rays work because the body’s tissues vary in density (thickness). Each tissue allows a different amount of radiation to pass through and expose the X-ray-sensitive film. Bones, for example, are very dense, and most of the radiation is prevented from passing through to the film. As a result, bones appear white on an X-ray. Tissues that are less dense–such as the lungs, which are filled with air–allow more of the X-rays to pass through to the film and appear on the image in shades of gray.

Why is a spine X-ray ordered?
A spine X-ray may be ordered to evaluate a back or neck injury, or to help with the diagnosis and treatment of back or neck pain. Spine X-rays can help detect:

Fractures (breaks)
Tumors (abnormal masses of cells)
Arthritis
Disc problems
Deformities in the curves of the spine
Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
Infection

A skull x-ray is a picture of the bones surrounding the brain, including the facial bones, the nose, and the sinuses.
Your doctor may order this x-ray if you have injured your skull. You may also have this x-ray if you have symptoms or signs of a structural problem inside the skull, such as a tumor or bleeding.

A skull x-ray is also used to evaluate an unusually shaped child’s head.

Other conditions for which the test may be performed include:

Teeth are not aligned properly (malocclusion of teeth)
Infection of the mastoid bone (mastoiditis)
Occupational hearing loss
Middle ear infection (otitis media)
Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear that causes hearing loss (otosclerosis)
Pituitary tumor
Sinus infection (sinusitis)