Lateral chest X-ray is a diagnostic method that uses x-rays and allows getting an image of the internal organs, blood vessels and lymphatic system of the chest, as well as the ribs and spine of the chest.
Today, modern x-ray equipment is used, which allows a 5-fold reduction in the radiation dose compared to traditional film fluorography. High resolution and image quality allow the specialist to repeatedly increase the resulting image, which makes it possible to accurately diagnose possible pathologies even in the early stages.
Why would you need a lateral chest x-ray?
A lateral chest x-ray is prescribed for routine examinations and if indicated. A preventive X-ray examination reveals dangerous diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer. In the early stages, these diseases can be asymptomatic, therefore, only timely diagnosis allows you to prescribe timely treatment.
X-ray makes it possible to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the necessary course of treatment if a doctor suspects the following diseases:
- bronchitis and pneumonia. It is quite difficult to distinguish these diseases without an x-ray, even after a medical examination. It is also necessary to take an x-ray of the chest so as not to confuse bronchial pneumonia with lung cancer or tuberculosis;
- lung abscess (cavities filled with pus form);
- pleurisy (lung membrane disease);
- silicosis (an occupational disease caused by prolonged inhalation of dust), etc. A chest X-ray allows making the correct diagnosis, identifying foci and determining the severity of these diseases;
- cardiovascular diseases. A chest x-ray allows a medical specialist to identify specific changes in the shape, size, position of the heart and the vessels surrounding it;
- fracture of ribs and / or damage to the lungs as a result of various injuries. Radiography allows you to identify the level and nature of damage to the ribs and costal joints, as well as the surrounding vessels and soft tissues;
- spinal curvature and disease of the thoracic spine. A chest x-ray is one of the few methods that allow a medical specialist to track changes in the shape and structure of the spine as a whole, as well as the structure of individual vertebrae;
- diseases of the lymphatic system. X-ray imaging allows diagnosing the condition of lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels: their shape, condition and patency;
- foreign objects. An X-ray allows you to identify the size and location of foreign bodies that have invaded the tissues or organs of the respiratory apparatus, into the gastrointestinal tract, through the wound, when inhaling or swallowing.
Indications for a lateral chest x-ray
To exclude the development and complication of the above diseases, you need to do a chest x-ray if you have any of the following symptoms:
- chest pain;
- pain in the heart or arrhythmia;
- painful breathing, shortness of breath, bouts of an uncontrolled shortage of air, bubbling breath;
- high blood pressure;
- sudden weight loss or loss of appetite;
- dry cough or cough with pathological sputum;
- chest injuries;
- visible neoplasms of the chest area;
- suspected contact with tuberculosis patients;
- positive Mantoux reaction.
Modern equipment makes the chest radiography procedure as safe as possible. Nevertheless, experts recommend conducting this type of examination no more than 6 times during the year. In the presence of pregnancy (especially in the 1st trimester), radiography is prescribed with caution. Before doing an x-ray using a contrast agent, it is necessary to inform the doctor about the presence of allergic reactions.
How to prepare for a lateral chest x-ray?
A chest x-ray does not require any special preparation. Changing diet or following a special diet is not required. It is not allowed to carry out an x-ray in the presence of metal objects on the human body, so it is necessary to remove all jewelry and watches before the procedure.
How is a chest x-ray done?
The x-ray procedure is carried out in a specially equipped room. Most often, an x-ray is performed on inhalation (according to some indications, on exhalation). The study can be performed in front, side, and also – to detail individual areas – in different positions of the chest relative to the apparatus. If the diagnosis is prescribed during pregnancy, the stomach is covered with a protective apron. The procedure lasts less than a minute, after which the radiologist analyzes the data and issues an opinion. Most often, to obtain objective data, the x-ray is supplemented by ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging.
The clarity and accuracy of the lateral x-ray image obtained depends on the voltage and current strength in the x-ray tube and its operating time. These parameters should be set individually depending on the study and the patient’s weight and size characteristics. Each x-ray machine is accompanied by a table of average values for various organs and tissues, however, the radiologist has to adjust them for each specific case. The immobility of the patient during the procedure is also very important. The image is recorded on an x-ray film or on digital media using a computer. Digital registration of x-ray data is still expensive, so traditional x-ray films do not lose their relevance and are used everywhere.