X-Ray Imaging

What do the results of a chest X-ray mean?

A Answers (1)

  • AHealthwise answered

    A chest X-ray is a picture of the chest to see your heart, lungs, airway, blood vessels and lymph nodes. A chest X-ray also shows the bones of your chest, including your breastbone, ribs, collarbone, and the upper part of your spine. 

    In an emergency, the results of a chest X-ray can be available within a few minutes for review by your doctor. If it is not an emergency, results are usually ready in 1 or 2 days.

    • The lungs look normal in size and shape, and the lung tissue looks normal. No growths or other masses can be seen within the lungs. The pleural spaces (the spaces surrounding the lungs) also look normal.
    • The heart looks normal in size, shape and the heart tissue looks normal. The blood vessels leading to and from the heart also are normal in size, shape and appearance.
    • The bones including the spine and ribs look normal.
    • The diaphragm looks normal in shape and location.
    • No abnormal collection of fluid or air is seen, and no foreign objects are seen.
    • All tubes, catheters or other medical devices are in their correct positions in the chest.
    • An infection, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, is present.
    • Problems such as a tumor, injury or a condition such as edema from heart failure may be seen. In some cases, more X-rays or other tests may be needed to see the problem clearly.
    • A problem such as an enlarged heart which could be caused by heart damage, heart valve disease, or fluid around the hearts seen. Or a problem of the blood vessels, such as an enlarged aorta, an aneurysm, or hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), is seen.
    • Fluid is seen in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or around the lungs (pleural effusion), or air is seen in the spaces around a lung (pneumothorax).
    • Broken bones (fractures) are seen in the rib cage, collarbone, shoulder or spine.
    • Enlarged lymph nodes are seen.
    • A foreign object is seen in the esophagus, breathing tubes or lungs. 
    • A tube, catheter or other medical device looks like it has moved out of the correct position.


    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

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