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A chest X-ray uses very small amounts of radiation (electromagnetic waves) to create images of the structures inside your chest, including your heart, lungs, airways, and bones. At Stanford, we use chest X-rays to diagnose a wide range of injuries and conditions affecting the organs and bones in the chest.
Different types of tissues in your body absorb differing levels of radiation:
Bones, such as your ribs, absorb the most radiation and appear white or light gray in the X-ray
The lungs absorb very little radiation and appear dark
The heart shows up as medium gray
Our doctors may order a chest X-ray to assess injuries, such as broken bones, or to monitor a condition that may be worsening, such as fluid in the lungs. We can also use chest X-ray to help determine the underlying causes of symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath.
Our doctors use chest X-ray to plan treatment or evaluate its effectiveness, including:
Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.