Indications for chest X-rays in children and how to obtain and interpret them
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence & Practice    

Indications for chest X-rays in children and how to obtain and interpret them

Hannah Morgan Fifth-year medical student, Peninsula College of Medicine and Denistry, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, England
Garry Pettet Formerly consultant radiologist, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, England
Michele Reed Advanced practice reporting radiographer and paediatric lead radiographer, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, England
Siba Prosad Paul Consultant paediatrician, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, England

Chest X-ray (CXR) is one of the most common radiological investigations undertaken in practice with children. CXRs are requested for a number of suspected diagnoses, including pneumonia, pneumothorax and foreign body aspiration or ingestion. They may also be requested as part of a skeletal survey or to confirm the position of central and umbilical lines, as well as nasogastric tubes.

Nurses play a vital role in ensuring that X-rays are performed in a safe and timely manner, and to ensure children are supported and positioned appropriately to obtain the best quality images. It is useful for nurses working with children to understand the underlying mechanism and rationale for requesting X-rays because this helps them to communicate the relevance of the procedure to other team members. This article provides an overview of the fundamental principles of obtaining a CXR and interpreting the images.

Nursing Children and Young People. 30, 6, 30-37. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2018.e1141


Peer review

This article has been subject to open peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared


To reuse this article or for information about reprints and permissions, please contact

Write for us

For information about writing for RCNi journals, contact

For author guidelines, go to

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now