Radiology of the Chest
The chest radiograph is the most frequently performed radi-ographic study in the United States. It should almost always be the first radiologic study ordered for evaluation of diseases of the thorax. The natural contrast of the aerated lungs provides a window into the body to evaluate the patient for diseases in-volving the heart, lungs, pleurae, tracheobronchial tree, esoph-agus, thoracic lymph nodes, thoracic skeleton, chest wall, and upper abdomen. In both acute and chronic illnesses, the chest radiograph allows one to detect a disease and monitor its re-sponse to therapy. For many disease processes (eg, pneumonia and congestive heart failure) the diagnosis can be established and the disease followed to resolution with no further imaging studies. There are limitations to the chest radiograph, and dis-eases may not be sufficiently advanced to be detected or maynot result in detectable abnormalities. Other imaging methods are needed to complement the conventional chest radiograph.