Chest X-ray

Home » Resources » Dictionary » Terms

Definition - What does Chest X-ray mean?

A chest X-ray is a medical procedure to capture images of the airways, blood vessels, bones, heart, lungs, and spine. A patient will stand between a machine that discharges X-rays through a plate, which captures digital images of the chest wall cavity from both a front and side view. A chest X-ray uses low doses of radiation to contrast visuals on a black-and-white film medium.

SureHire explains Chest X-ray

In a chest X-ray exam, solid structures (i.e., ribs/spine) have a high-density mass ratio, which blocks the X-rays and makes an image appear white. Conversely, organs and soft tissue (i.e., the heart/lungs) are more porous and can absorb the X-ray particles, which appear as a black image. A doctor may use a chest X-ray to chart a health condition between visits. For example, it can help monitor a cardiopulmonary disease, such as congestive heart failure (CHF) or emphysema, which, respectively, shows arterial blockage in/around the heart muscle or scarred lining of the lung tissue. Other examples of using a chest X-ray include fractures of the rib/spine, a collapsed lung, and candidates for cancer or pneumonia.


In some job trades, a chest X-ray can help assess if a person can handle the physical demands and stress factors involved in a line of work. The process consists of a cardiovascular test synched with the medical history and fitness level based on the job description. For instance, a chest X-ray can show latent signs, boosted by symptoms of chest pain/shortness of breath, of obstructive lung disease (i.e., asthma). As a result, this can affect a person's ability to use a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or work in tight workspaces.

Subscribe to SureNews!

Get your Reasonable Suspicion Checklist! Join our community and get access to more resources like this! Emails are sent monthly, so no need to worry, we will not fill up your inbox.