DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Chest X-rays produce images of your heart, lungs, blood vessels, ribs and the bones of your spine. If you go to your doctor or the emergency room with chest pain or shortness of breath, chest X-rays can help determine whether you have heart failure, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, broken ribs or air accumulating in the space surrounding a lung (pneumothorax).
Chest X-rays can also reveal fluid in your lungs or in the spaces surrounding your lungs, enlargement of your heart, pneumonia, emphysema, cancer and many other conditions. Some people have a series of chest X-rays done over time, to track whether a particular health problem is getting better or worse.
In the past, the X-ray was printed out on film. Now, almost all chest X-rays are digital files that are viewed and stored electronically.
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