Diagnose This! How Do Your Chest X-Ray Interpretation Skills Hold Up?

Reading chest X-rays is a critical skill for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a radiologist overseeing X-ray interpretation at your clinic or hospital, even the best radiologists make mistakes or present readings unclearly. Becoming an expert in X-ray interpretation, especially when it comes to the all-important chest X-ray, will put you a step ahead in your practice. Can you correctly interpret these commonly seen chest X-rays?

If your chest X-ray reading skills aren't quite up to par, there are some excellent online tutorials that guide you through the basics of chest X-ray interpretation. If you could use a refresher, check out Elsevier's tutorial, WikiHow's simplified instructional, or the online chest X-ray atlas. Remember to be thorough and systematic in your approach, reading chest X-rays the same way each and every time. Also, don't forget to look for prior X-rays when you are treating a returning patient. Often, small changes can alert you to big problems. 

Normal Chest X-Ray




Foreign Body (Aspirated Tooth)


Pneumonia (Right Upper Lobe)






Pleural Effusion




Congestive Heart Failure


Lung Mass


How'd you score? If you had some trouble with these X-ray reads, check out the ABCDEFGHI's of cest X-Ray interpretation. Remember, when it comes to X-ray interpretation, practice makes perfect. The more chest X-rays you can get your hands on, the better. So, start being proactive in looking at your patient's films and you will become an X-ray reading expert.


You Might Also Like: Crash Course in Cardiac Devices