Chest x-ray

Chest X-ray

A chest x-ray produces an image of your heart, lungs, airways, and ribs.

It allows doctors to look at your heart, lungs and chest wall.


Why might I have a chest x-ray?

If you have symptoms such as feeling short of breath, a chest x-ray can help doctors find out if it’s caused by a heart or lung condition or something else.

You would also have a chest x-ray done as part of routine work up for heart surgery.

If your doctor thinks you may have a heart condition, they will arrange for you to have other tests too. 

What happens during a chest x-ray?

You will be asked to remove your clothes down to your waist, put on a hospital gown and also remove jewellery.

You will stand against a photographic plate and the radiographer, the health professional who takes the x-rays, will ask you to take a deep breath and hold it (this helps to improve the quality of the x-ray image). Once they have taken the x-ray they will advise you to breathe normally again.

You may have chest x-rays taken from different angles, but they only take a few seconds each time and the whole process usually takes a few minutes. The radiographer will check the images before you leave and advise you when the results will be available to your doctor.

Having a chest x-ray is painless, although the photographic plate is a bit cold and hard.

If you are pregnant or think you might be, make sure you tell your doctor.

Want to find out more?

Tests booklet

Tests for heart conditions booklet

This booklet describes the special tests that are commonly used to help diagnose heart diseases.

Some of the tests are also used to assess the current condition of people who have already been diagnosed with heart disease.