A chest X-ray is a picture of the heart, lungs and bones of the chest. It can help your doctor determine if your heart is an unusual shape or if it is larger than it should be. It can also help confirm the presence of a valve disorder and provide important detailed information about your condition and its seriousness. Chest X-rays are useful for diagnosing an enlargement of the heart (cardiomyopathy) or heart failure.
What is involved
Having chest X-rays is completely painless and only takes a few minutes. Wearing a hospital gown, you will be asked to lie on an X-ray table and a technologist will help you get positioned properly. You will have to hold your breath and lie very still for two to three seconds. The X-ray machine is turned on briefly, letting a small beam of X-rays pass through your chest to create an image on special X-ray film. Sometimes two pictures are taken – a front and side view. The X-ray film takes about 10 minutes to develop.
How to prepare
No special preparation is necessary. If you have questions, it is best to check with the centre where you are having your test for specific information about how to prepare.
Last modified: March 2011