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Thorax photo of myself
A thorax photo is an X-ray of the chest (thorax) on which the heart and lungs sign off. Often the thorax photo in the hospital is the first imaging study, but almost never the only one. Other imaging studies – such as an ultrasound of the heart – provide more useful information. On a thorax photo,
the doctor mainly assess the shape and size of the heart, and the presence of fluid in the lungs. That's not easy, because a thorax photo is really just a vague shadow.
The X-rays during the examination are weaker than, for example, the X-rays during a CT
In a study of heart disease, two thorax photos are usually taken. The first over the entire chest (A) and the second from the side (B).
images The first X-ray was taken by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen, who was awarded the first ever Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for his spectacular discovery. An X-ray can be compared to the shadow of an object on the wall. You don't actually see the object itself, but from the shape of the shadow you can make up everything about shape and size.
X-rays pass through the air-filled lungs unhindered, but are more or less absorbed by blood or
bones. They draw like shadows on a plate that you stand against with your chest. On an X-ray, light and dark are reversed: the shadows are light (bones, blood) and the places where the X-rays were not stopped are actually dark (lungs).
shadow A thorax photo is a shadow image. Compact materials such as bones and the heart muscle hold back the X-rays and draw like shadows.
the heart Central to a thorax photo is the white-gray spot of the heart shadow, which is against the black-gray spots of the lungs filled with air. The contours of the heart and the large blood vessels (aorta) are usually (partially) distinguishable. If the contours are clearly visible, the doctor can estimate how big the heart is. The white spot should not be wider than half the width of the chest. If this is the case, the heart is enlarged and this may indicate a heart disease such as heart failure or cardiomyopathy.
The ratio between the size of the heart (cardia) and the size of the chest (thorax) is expressed in the so-called cardiothoracic ratio, or CT
ratio. A CT ratio of 50 percent or less is normal. By the way, measuring the ct ratio can only be done in someone who can stand. In someone who is in bed, a thorax photo can be taken with a special device, but the shadow of the heart is then distorted and the ratio between the heart and chest is unusable to calculate a CT ratio.
If the heart is enlarged, the doctor can still study its
shape. For example, a bulge can indicate an increased pressure in that part of the heart, for example due to a malfunctioning heart valve. Fluid in the
lungs Moisture in the lungs is characterized as white-gray spots against the dark, air-filled lung parts.
Unlike air, moisture does absorb the X-rays, causing moisture to cast a white shadow on the X-ray plate, as well as the blood-filled heart. Fluid in the lungs can have all kinds of causes, including heart disease. For example, if in heart failure the heart is weakened and cannot pump out the blood properly, blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels increases and fluid leaks to the alveoli. It's called lung thrust. The thorax photo is very suitable for uncovering lung propulsion.
Thorax photo of myself
The white pear-shaped spot in the middle is the shadow of the heart and the aorta. The CT ratio in this photo is normal. The letter R at the top stands for 'right'.
Precipitation of calcium
Calcium (lime) absorbs X-rays even better than moisture. Ribs, collarbones and the spine are therefore easily recognizable in a thorax photo as sharply rimmed white spots. But also the heart and blood vessels can contain calcareous substances. Then there is artery disease, also called arteriosclerosis. Sometimes the calcium concentrations can be seen in a thorax photo.
When you take an X-ray, you are exposed to weak X-rays for a short time. The health risk of medical X-rays is small