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The standard chest examination consists of a PA (posterioranterior) and lateral chest x-ray. The films are read together. The PA exam is viewed as if the patient is standing in front of you with their right side on your left. Chest x-rays (CXR) are a scan used to evaluate the lungs, heart and chest wall and can detect medical conditions such as:

They are the most commonly requested x-ray in medicine and accounts for 50% of all x-rays performed.


Chest X-rays require very little preparation on the part of the person getting it.

You will need to remove any jewelry, eyeglasses, body piercings, or other metal on your person. Tell your doctor if you have a surgically implanted device, such as a heart valve or pacemaker. Your doctor may opt for a chest X-ray if you have metal implants. Other scans, such as MRIs, can be risky for people who have metal in their bodies.

Before the X-ray, you?ll undress from the waist up and change into a hospital gown.


The patient is required to remove all jewellery which may obstruct the view of the chest, and remove upper garments including bra (containing metal), and dress in a loose fitting gown.

The posteroanterior (PA) view is standardly obtained. The patient stands with the chest pressed against the radiographic plate, with hands on hips and elbows pushed in front.

The radiographer will ask the patient to be still and to take a deep breath and hold it. Breath-holding after a deep breath reduces the possibility of a blurred image and also enhances the quality of the x-ray image.

The lateral chest view (side view) may be required to view further information in the chest. The patient stands sideways to the radiographic plate with arms elevated, and the x-ray is taken with the patient taking and holding a deep breath in.


A lab usually develops the images from a chest X-ray on large sheets of film. When viewed against a lit background, your doctor can look for an array of problems, from tumors to broken bones.

A radiologist also goes over the images and gives your doctor their interpretation. Your doctor will discuss the results of your X-ray with you at a follow-up appointment.

Testing time

Most general x-ray exams take no more than 15 minutes. The contrast related procedures take approximately 30 minutes, unless told otherwise.

Result explanation

A chest X-ray produces a black-and-white image that shows the organs in your chest. Structures that block radiation appear white, and structures that let radiation through appear black.

Your bones appear white because they are very dense. Your heart also appears as a lighter area. Your lungs are filled with air and block very little radiation, so they appear as darker areas on the images.

A radiologist ? a doctor trained to interpret X-rays and other imaging exams ? analyzes the images, looking for clues that may suggest if you have heart failure, fluid around your heart, cancer, pneumonia or another condition.

Your own doctor will discuss the results with you as well as what treatments or other tests or procedures may be necessary.s


An X-ray can help diagnose a medical issue or monitor treatment progression without the need to physically enter and examine a patient. Guiding: X-rays can help guide medical professionals as they insert catheters, stents, or other devices inside the patient.

Common uses

The most familiar use of x-rays is checking for fractures (broken bones), but x-rays are also used in other ways. For example, chest x-rays can spot pneumonia. Mammograms use x-rays to look for breast cancer. When you have an x-ray, you may wear a lead apron to protect certain parts of your body.

Global facts

  1. X-rays were discovered by accident in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röentgen, a German professor.
  2. Röentgen noticed crystals giving off a fluorescent glow when placed near a high-voltage cathode-ray tube?even when he shielded them with dark paper. Some form of energy was being produced by the tube, penetrating the paper and causing the crystals to glow. His later experiments showed that this radiation could penetrate soft tissues but not bone, and would produce shadow images on photographic plates.
  3. Röentgen was awarded the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
  4. The ?X? in X-ray stands for the unknown, just as x stands for an unknown quantity in mathematics.
  5. During World War I, X-rays were already being used for medical purposes, including locating bullets in the human body.
  6. X-rays were originally considered completely safe to the body, even though x-ray technicians would often suffer burns. The first person to die from x-ray radiation exposure was Thomas Edison?s assistant, Clarence Dally, who had worked extensively with X-rays. He died of skin cancer in 1904.
  7. X-ray technology can be used for elemental analysis and chemical analysis, determining the materials and layers in art objects, buildings, archaeological finds, and more.
  8. Diamonds don?t show up on X-rays.

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