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Chest X-Ray: A Review of the Basics

Erica Schuster Rieffanaugh, RT(R)(CT)

*Diagnostic Imaging Technologist, St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor, Washington.

Address correspondence to: Erica Schuster Rieffanaugh, RT(R)(CT), Diagnostic Imaging Technologist, St. Anthony Hospital, 11567 Canterwood Boulevard, Gig Harbor, WA 98332. E-mail: EricaRieffanaugh@fhshealth.org.

Disclosures: Ms Rieffanaugh reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


Medical radiography is an excellent way to obtain vital information about a patient’s condition. This valuable information is obtained by radiologic technologists who have specialized in their field of training. X-ray images have proven their worth since their discovery in 1895, and medical radiography continues to be an important tool for the diagnosis or absence of patient pathology. Of all diagnostic X-rays, the chest X-ray is the most commonly performed. It is utilized as an extension of the physical examination for patients who present with chest pain or injury, shortness of breath, persistent cough, or fever. Although chest radiography is beneficial in many clinical settings, it cannot definitively detect certain problems such as pulmonary embolism or very small tumors. Therefore, it is important for radiologic technologists to have a basic knowledge of clinical indications for chest radiography. This article reviews anatomy, clinical information, technique, positioning, and shielding as it relates to chest radiography.

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