Main AHCA Website

AHCA’s main website for information on Medicaid, Health Quality Assurance and the Florida Center for Health Information and Transparency.

Go >

Florida Health Information Network

This website provides information and resources relating to AHCA’s initiatives for Health Information Technology and Health Information Exchange.

Go >

Provides health education and information to compare and locate health care providers in Florida to make well-informed health care decisions.

Go >
AHCA Network of Websites

Health Education

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Chest x-ray


A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.

Alternative Names

Chest radiography; Serial chest x-ray; X-ray - chest

How the Test is Performed

You stand in front of the x-ray machine. You will be told to hold your breath when the x-ray is taken.

Two images are usually taken. You will first need to stand facing the machine, and then sideways.

How to Prepare for the Test

Tell the health care provider if you are pregnant. Chest x-rays are generally not done during the first 6 months of pregnancy.

How the Test will Feel

There is no discomfort. The film plate may feel cold.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent cough
  • Chest pain from a chest injury (with a possible rib fracture or lung complication) or from heart problems
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

It may also be done if you have signs of tuberculosis, lung cancer, or other chest or lung diseases.

A serial chest x-ray is one that is repeated. It may be done to monitor changes found on a past chest x-ray.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to many things, including:

In the lungs:

In the heart:

  • Problems with the size or shape of the heart
  • Problems with the position and shape of the large arteries

In the bones:


There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.


Gotway MB, Elicker BM. Radiographic techniques. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus CV, Martin TR, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 19.

Stark P. Imaging in pulmonary disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 84.

Review Date:8/30/2014
Reviewed By:Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Read More


Acute mountain sickness

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Adult Still's disease

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency


Aortic dissection

Aortic insufficiency

Aortic stenosis



Aspiration pneumonia *

Asthma *


Atrial septal defect (ASD)

Atypical pneumonia *


Brain abscess

Breast cancer

Broken bone *


Bronchiolitis *

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia


Caplan syndrome

Cardiac amyloidosis

Cardiac tamponade

Cerebral arteriovenous malformation

Chest pain *

Coal worker's pneumoconiosis

Coarctation of the aorta

Collapsed lung (pneumothorax) *

Coughing up blood

Diaphragmatic hernia

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Disseminated tuberculosis

Drug-induced lupus erythematosus

Drug-induced pulmonary disease



Goodpasture syndrome

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis

Heart attack *

Heart failure - overview *


Histoplasmosis - acute (primary) pulmonary

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hospital-acquired pneumonia *

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis

Hypertensive heart disease

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Industrial bronchitis

Interstitial lung disease

Legionnaire disease

Lung cancer - small cell *

Lung disease

Lung metastases *

Malignant hypertension

Meningitis *

Mesothelioma - benign-fibrous

Mesothelioma - malignant

Metastatic brain tumor *

Metastatic pleural tumor

Mitral stenosis

Mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve regurgitation

Mycoplasma pneumonia *


Necrotizing vasculitis

Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome



Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Occupational asthma

Osteoporosis - overview

Patent ductus arteriosus


Pericarditis - after heart attack

Peripartum cardiomyopathy

Pleural effusion

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia *

Pneumonia - adults (community acquired) *

Pneumonia - weakened immune system *

Premature infant *

Primary alveolar hypoventilation

Pulmonary actinomycosis

Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis

Pulmonary aspergilloma

Pulmonary edema *

Pulmonary embolus

Pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary nocardiosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis

Pulmonary valve stenosis

Pulmonary veno-occlusive disease

Q fever - early

Renal cell carcinoma

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) *

Restrictive cardiomyopathy

Rheumatoid lung disease




Simple pulmonary eosinophilia

Solitary pulmonary nodule

SVC obstruction

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Testicular cancer

Tetralogy of Fallot

Transient ischemic attack *

Transposition of the great vessels

Ventricular septal defect

Viral pneumonia *

Wilms tumor


* Has Related Health Outcome Information

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback
1. Did you find this information useful?

2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?