Thoracic Imaging for Medical Students

Thoracic radiology focuses on the diagnosis and assessment of cardiac and pulmonary diseases. Radiography plays a major role in lung imaging, and its chest radiographs are one of the most common radiologic exams in modern medicine. CT is also being more commonly used in imaging the lungs and heart, especially with the recent interest in low dose CT scans for lung cancer screening. While MRI is not commonly used in imaging the lungs, its use in imaging of the heart is one of the burgeoning fields of radiology. In imaging the lung, thoracic radiologists work closely with intensivists, pulmonologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and pathologists. Thoracic radiologists work closely with cardiac surgeons and cardiologists in imaging the heart, and often co-interpret cardiac studies with cardiologists.


Not sure where to start, Dr. Matthew Bentz suggests you start here.

Intro to Chest Imaging- Part1  Part2  Part3  Part4
Intro to Chest Radiograph- Part1  Part2

Goals and objectives

  • Employ a systematic search pattern for interpreting chest Radiographs
  • Recognize normal anatomic structures of the chest on imaging exams
  • Identify the different Chest Radiographic views and describe when they are helpful, as well as the limitations of each
  • List different types of Morphologies that can are commonly seen on a Chest Radiograph.
  • Identify consolidation on Chest Radiograph and formulate a differential diagnosis for the appearance
  • Discuss Chest Radiographic findings that may help characterize a lung opacity as atelectasis
  • Recognize a pleural effusion at Chest Radiograph on supine or upright exams (Role of decubitus films
  • Describe signs of a pneumothorax at Chest radiograph
  • Differentiate between Hydrostatic Edema versus Non-Cardiogenic Edema on a chest radiograph.
  • Discuss the criteria for diagnosis of enlarged cardiac silhouette on PA Versus AP Chest Radiograph
  • What are the 6 most common causes for Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
  • Define ‘Ball under the carpet’. Where is a mass located if it looks like a ‘Ball under the carpet’?
  • Recognize the correct positioning of feeding tubes, venous lines and endotracheal tubes on chest x-ray, and likewise recognize incorrect positioning.
  • What are 2 important imaging signs of an abnormal mediastinum?
  • What are the 3 most common reasons for a ‘Wide mediastinum’?
  • What is the most common appearance of a Pulmonary Embolus on a Chest Radiograph.
  • What are the most common signs, Symptoms and Vital signs of a pulmonary embolus?
  • What factor is the most important determinant of Distribution of Disease within the Lungs?