The official blog of the Lung Institute.

How Are X-Rays Used for Lung Disease?

Over the past few weeks you’ve been noticing that you seem to be experiencing a shortness of breath that worsens just a little more from week to week. At first, you thought it was nothing, but now the coughing has kicked in and you feel that something might actually be going on inside. So now here you are…sitting in front of your doctor with a list symptoms, which seem to have grown longer over the last couple of days. Your doctor suspect’s lung disease, but he will not know until he has the results of your x-ray. Which makes you beg the question, how are x-rays used for lung diseases?

Where Did X-rays Come From?

How about a short history lesson? You may not have known this fact, but the x-ray was discovered completely by accident. In 1895, a scientist by the name of Wilhelm Röntgen, was working on a completely different experiment using cathode tubes. Over the course of the experiment though, Röntgen discovered that the effects of his experiment were radiating x-rays (X = unknown rays) that allowed him to look at the bones of his wife’s hand. It is from this test that Röntgen is credited being the first person to study x-rays. Since then doctors have been utilizing x-rays to better diagnose and treat patients.

The Glowing Power of the X-Ray

No doubt that you have heard of an x-ray, but are you aware of all of the capabilities that this piece of technology is utilized for? According to the Mayo Clinic, an x-ray is a quick and painless test that produces images of the inside of your body. During a session, x-ray beams pass through your body taking an image of the different organs and bones.

Depending upon the test, doctors can take an image of the heart, lungs or bone structure to get a better understanding of what condition a patient may be suffering from. Commonly, x-rays are performed on people to find such conditions as arthritis, lung infections or heart disease. When a test is complete, the resulting image is used to show any abnormalities that might help doctors diagnose a condition. X-rays are perfectly safe to use for children or adults.

X-Rays Used for Lung Diseases: Does it Always Work?

Lung disease encompasses a number of conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis and much more. While there are different ways to measure for a lung disease, like a spirometry test, x-rays are still used to measure the full extent of the lung disease. For example, COPD is tracked over the course of the disease through several x-rays taken every few years.

A chest x-ray is used to measure for any major lung diseases. In the case of COPD, a chest X-ray is done at the time of initial diagnosis. X-rays may find that a person with an increased chest size, constricted airways, a rapidly beating heart and material in the lungs may be a cause of COPD. While this may not mean you have COPD, an x-ray has the ability to help rule out other conditions and offer your doctor a better chance to understand what condition is plaguing you.

X-rays are used a number of different ways when it comes to lung disease. Almost always, x-rays are used to help diagnose and track the effects of lung diseases. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065 today.


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