Chest X-Ray for Children

What Is a Chest X-ray?

A chest X-ray is a photograph-like image of the heart and lungs that uses a small dose of radiation to create a picture. It is one of the most common medical tests performed. You may also hear doctors refer to a chest X-ray test as a "chest radiography".

What Body Parts Are Involved?

  • Heart
  • Blood vessels near the heart
  • Lungs
  • Ribs and other bones
  • Why Does My Child Need a Chest X-ray?

    Chest X-rays are done to look for abnormalities of the heart, lungs, bones, or blood vessels in the chest. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray in response to certain symptoms or to help diagnose a medical condition. If your child is being evaluated for a transplant, he or she may have a pediatric chest X-ray. This is part of a thorough physical examination conducted by specialists to determine whether transplantation would be a safe and beneficial option for your child.

    Common symptoms requiring a chest X-ray:

    • Bad or persistent cough
    • Chest pain
    • Chest injury
    • Coughing up blood
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Falls

    Conditions diagnosed by a chest X-ray:

    • Blood vessel problems
    • Congenital heart disease
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Fractures of the ribs
    • Heart valve defects
    • Lung cancer
    • Cancerous spread to the bones
    • Pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart)
    • Pneumonia
    • Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
    • Tuberculosis

    Who Should Not Have a Chest X-ray?

    Because X-rays are done using a small dose of radiation, they are generally avoided during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. Anyone who is pregnant or suspects she may be pregnant should inform the doctor or X-ray technician. There are no other contraindications for a chest X-ray. A lead apron is used to shield the abdomen and pelvis to minimize the risk of radiation exposure.

    Pediatric Chest X-ray Procedure: What to Expect

    Prior to the chest x-ray procedure

    A chest X-ray can be performed in a hospital, an outside lab, or doctor's office. Your child will be asked to remove any jewelry from the waist up and put on a hospital gown.

    During the chest x-ray procedure

    Pictures are taken from two different views: a side view and a front view. An X-ray technician will position your child according to the type of X-ray machine used. Most commonly, your child will stand against the X-ray machine, hands up or to the side. Your child will be asked to take a deep breath and hold it while the X-ray is being taken. It is important for your child to stay as still as possible when film is taken.

    X-rays are painless. If anything, your child may report that the film cartridge feels cool to his or her skin. The whole procedure generally takes about ten to fifteen minutes.

    After the chest x-ray procedure

    Once the X-ray is completed, you are free to go. Unless your child is an inpatient at the hospital for another reason, there is no hospital stay involved. No complications have been reported after this procedure.

    Chest X-ray Results

    A radiologist (a doctor who specializes in X-rays) will evaluate your child's chest X-ray and send a report to your doctor. Results are generally available in one to two days. An abnormal chest X-ray may require further testing, including a chest computed tomography (CT) scan. If an abnormal growth is seen, a biopsy may be ordered.

    Get the Pediatric X-Ray Patient Procedure.

    Learn about other Intestine Transplant Tests.