For a chest X-ray, you will be asked to stand in front of a special panel. The technician aims the X-ray tube at you from about 6 feet away. You may be asked to stand in different positions to ensure a good view of your lungs. You will be asked to remove all jewelry and any other metal objects, and you may be asked to remove some of your clothing.
The radiation from an X-ray does slightly increase the risk of cancer, but this tiny increase in risk is outweighed by the benefits of looking at the lungs. Be sure to inform your physician and the technician if there is any chance you are pregnant. The technician can take special precautions to make sure your abdomen is shielded from radiation.
CT Scan of the Chest
A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan takes many X-ray pictures to build detailed images of the chest. The pictures are more detailed than a typical X-ray. During a CT scan of the chest, pictures are taken of cross sections or slices of the thoracic structures in your body. The thoracic structures include your lungs and heart and the bones around these areas.
Before the study, you will need to remove all clothing and jewelry from the waist up. You will be given a hospital gown to wear. Avoid having any barium studies done two to three days before the CT scan.
For the CT scan, you will lie on a special table that slides back and forth through a doughnut-shaped ring. The technologist will give you instructions during the test, asking you to raise your arms sometimes and to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds. While you hold your breath, the table will move through the ring as machinery in the ring takes X-ray images. It is important to lie still while the images are taken. You may be asked to lie on your stomach to have extra pictures taken.