Chest X-ray | MedStar Health

Imaging test used to evaluate airways, blood vessels, heart, and lungs

Chest X-rays are a common exam and often one of the first procedures you’ll have if the doctor suspects you have heart or lung disease. The test uses a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart and chest wall. They can be used to help spot abnormalities, reveal fluid in or around the lungs, or diagnose shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest pain, or injury.

What to expect when getting a chest x-ray

A chest X-ray requires little to no special preparation. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant as radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.

You will wear a lead apron to cover your genitals and be positioned (standing or lying down) between a machine that produces the X-rays and a plate that creates the images. The technician may ask you to take a deep breath and hold it for several seconds. You may be asked to move into different positions to capture images from various angles. The exam is painless and should take about 20 minutes.


Abdominal aortic aneurysm treatments

Abdominal aortic aneurysm treatments include monitoring, medication or surgery to place a graft that reduces pressure on the walls of the aorta where the aneurysm exists.

Balloon valvuloplasty 

Balloon valvuloplasty improves blood flow through the heart to the lungs and body by opening a stiff heart valve.

Cardiac implant closure device 

Cardiac implant closure devices are used to repair defects that allow blood to flow through a hole connecting the chambers of the heart.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)

Cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT, is a treatment for heart failure that uses a pacemaker device to keep the heart’s lower two chambers pumping together.

Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat or cold to destroy heart tissue causing atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm.

Congenital heart disease treatments 

Treatments for congenital heart conditions range from atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale closures to cardiac ablations, heart valve replacements, and heart transplants.

Convergent procedure (maze)

A convergent maze procedure is a procedure that aggressively treats atrial fibrillation (AFib). Maze procedures create a pattern, or maze, of scar tissue in the heart to disrupt faulty electrical signals causing your abnormal heart rhythm.

Coronary artery bypass surgery 

Coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, restores normal blood flow through narrowed or blocked coronary arteries by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm, or chest to create a detour around the problem area.

Electrical cardioversion

Electrical cardioversion uses electrical shocks to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Heart failure surgery

Surgical treatments for heart failure can include coronary bypass surgery, mechanical support devices, and heart transplants. Heart failure treatment [link: /services/heart-failure/]

Heart failure treatment

Treatments for heart failure such as medications, surgery and mechanical devices vary based on the cause and severity of your condition.

Heart surgery for atrial fibrillation (maze)

A surgical maze procedure treats atrial fibrillation (AFib) by creating a pattern, or maze, of scar tissue in the heart to disrupt faulty electrical signals causing your abnormal heart rhythm.

Heart transplants 

A heart transplant replaces a diseased, failing heart with a healthier heart from a donor.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device implanted below your collarbone that monitors your heart’s rhythm. When it detects an abnormal rhythm, it delivers an electrical impulse or shock to the heart to correct it.

Infective endocarditis surgery

Infective endocarditis surgery is the removal of infected heart tissue and repair or replacement of damaged heart valves.

Inotropic therapy

Inotropic therapy is an IV medication that can relieve symptoms of heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Intracoronary radiation therapy

Intracoronary radiation therapy is an innovative treatment that uses radiation to prevent scar tissue buildup in the arteries after an angioplasty or stent placement.

Left atrial appendage closure 

Closing the left atrial appendage can decrease the risk of `dangerous blood clots and stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation.

Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) 

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helps the heart pump blood more effectively during end-stage heart failure.

Left ventricular reconstructive surgery (modified DOR procedure) 

During left ventricular reconstructive surgery, the left ventricle is reshaped to remove scar tissue caused by heart failure.


Mitraclip is a device our doctors use to treat mitral insufficiency, also known as mitral regurgitation.

Mitral valve disease treatments 

Mitral valve disease treatments may include medication, minimally invasive procedures and surgery to treat a damaged valve.

Mitral valvuloplasty

Mitral valvuloplasty improves blood flow through the heart to the lungs and body by opening a narrow or stiff heart valve.

Off-pump bypass surgery (beating-heart bypass)  

Off-pump bypass surgery, also known as beating-heart bypass surgery, is an option for many patients to have coronary artery bypass surgery without needing to stop the heart or lungs during the procedure

Percutaneous valve treatments

Percutaneous valve procedures use catheter-based methods to replace a damaged heart valve and are less invasive than traditional open-heart surgeries.

Pulmonary embolism treatment 

Treatment for pulmonary embolisms can include medication to dissolve and prevent blood clots and surgical procedures to remove them.

Pulmonary vein isolation

Pulmonary vein isolation creates scar tissue to disrupt electrical signals coming from the pulmonary veins that cause atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of abnormal heart rhythm.

Radiofrequency ablation for atrial fibrillation 

Radiofrequency ablation uses extreme heat to destroy heart tissue causing an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

Rheolytic thrombectomy

Rheolytic thrombectomy uses a jet of saline delivered through a catheter to break up a blood clot.

Subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD) 

Subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (S-ICD) deliver electrical shocks to regulate your heart during ventricular arrhythmias.

Structural heart and valve disease treatments 

Structural heart and valve disease treatments address defects or abnormalities with the heart’s muscle or valves with or without surgery.

Thoracic outlet decompression 

Learn how MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute uses thoracic outlet decompression to treat thoracic outlet syndrome.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) 

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive option to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly and blocks the flow of blood.

Transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement

Transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement is a non-surgical procedure to replace a damaged tricuspid valve.

Tricuspid valve surgery 

Tricuspid valve surgery includes repair or replacement of a damaged valve using traditional or minimally invasive methods.

Valve disease treatments 

Valve disease treatments include monitoring, medication or surgery to repair or replace a damaged valve.

Valve sparing or valve preserving surgery (reimplantation surgery) 

Valve sparing surgery is a procedure to repair an aortic root aneurysm without replacing the aortic valve.

Ventricular assist device (VAD) 

A ventricular assist device (VAD), also known as a mechanical circulatory support device, helps the heart pump blood more effectively during end-stage heart failure.

WATCHMAN™ device (left atrial appendage closure)

We can implant a WATCHMAN device to permanently seal off the left atrial appendage (LAA), which is a small pouch in the top left chamber of the heart that is the site of almost all stroke-causing blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Wearable cardioverter defibrillator 

A vest that contains a device that monitors your heart and, if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected, delivers a shock to restore a normal heartbeat.

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Cardiologist taking EKG test of senior patient

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