What are they?

Chest X-rays are pictures of a child's heart taken using electromagnetic radiation.

Why are they done?

An X-ray can determine whether a child's heart or lungs look normal. A chest X-ray is useful in diagnosing:

  • An enlarged heart
  • Excess fluid around the heart
  • Excess fluid in the lungs
  • Lung problems such as pneumonia, lung cancer, tuberculosis or other lung diseases

Chest X-rays may also be used to check the position of devices, such as a pacemaker or a catheter.

How do they work?

An X-ray machine emits very tiny particles called photons that pass through the body and get picked up by a sensitive film or imaging plate. Structures that are dense, like bones, will block most of the photons and appear white on the developed film. Tissue, such as muscle, blood, skin and fat, appears darker.

What happens during the test?

Your child will be sent to our Radiology Department and dressed in a gown. They will stand or sit in front of the machine and may be asked to hold their breath when the X-ray is taken. Two views are usually taken: one from the front and one from the side. This is a painless test.

How long does it take?

A chest X-ray takes about five minutes, and needs to be read later by a radiologist.