What are X-ray views?

X-ray views are the different types of X-rays taken for an exam of a part of the body. X-rays taken of body parts have at least two views.  The number and types of views taken will often be described in the radiology report.  We do multiple X-ray views because they help us detect and diagnose abnormalities.

What are X-ray views?

X-ray views are simply different X-rays of the same body part taken from different directions and angles.   Each view shows certain structures better than others and allows more abnormalities to be seen.

For example, a finger x-ray may include a straight on view, a slightly turned or oblique view, and a side view or lateral view. The different views allow abnormalities to be better seen on the x ray.

How are X-ray views helpful?

We can better detect, localize and diagnose abnormalities with more X-ray views.

A break or fracture of a finger on X-ray may only be seen on the side view and not the other two views. In some cases, the break in the bone would be seen on all three views, especially when the bones are separated or displaced.

X-ray views can also help us determine where an abnormality is on an X-ray.  For example, it is common for the nipples on chest X-rays to form apparent nodules on the view taken from front to back.  The lateral views can help us determine that the nodule is on the breast and not in the lungs.

Chest X-ray 2 views

Chest X-rays are often performed in both straight on (AP or PA views) and from the side or lateral views. This allows the radiologist to better identify abnormalities than with one view only.  We can also see where the abnormality is in the chest.

There are areas where abnormalities can hide on only one view. The other view can help the radiologist see those hidden areas.  Two view chest X-rays can confirm that a shadow on one of the views is indeed an abnormality.

Bone X-rays

Bone X-rays are another common X-ray where multiple views are obtained. As described with the finger example, this allows breaks in the bone to better be identified. Sometimes subtle breaks will only be seen on one of the views. Bone tumors and infections can also be better shown on multiple views of the area.

There are also X-ray views that are taken for specific purposes. For example, a scaphoid view of the wrist is taken to better see fractures of the scaphoid bone.  The Y view on shoulder X-rays is done to see if the shoulder is dislocated.

Your doctor may request additional views when he suspects a certain abnormality based on his findings.  Different views often have specific names like sunrise, Grashey, apical lordotic and so on.

Who takes the X-ray views?

The X-ray views are performed by a specially trained technologist who positions the patient and takes the X-ray.

Who determines what views are taken?

The views are determined by department protocol or the ordering physicians.

What happens if the X-ray views are not well positioned?

Sometimes the position is slightly off and can either hide the abnormality or make normal structures look abnormal. The radiologist interpreting the X-rays will often recognize this or request a retake of the X-ray.

X-ray views: summary

X-ray views are X-rays of the same body part taken from different angles or directions.  Having multiple views allows us to detect more abnormalities and make more confident diagnosis.  X-ray views are usually done according to department protocol or according to what a referring doctor requests.


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