Identify your pt: DOB, CC, HPI
Use the "PIER" mnemonic to assess for adequacy of the film.
* Position: Typically, upright PA and lateral. Sick patients will have the fuzzier supine AP (because the film is slid under their chest as they are lying down). Size of the heart is exaggerated in AP view compared to PA. Edge of the medial border of scapula is at the midline of lung field in AP.
* Inspiration: Count the visible ribs. Lung fields should extend to about the 10th or 11th rib.
* Exposure: If the film is penetrated enough, you should be able to make out the spinous processes "inside" the vertebrae. If the film is underexposed/too white, you won't be able to see them. If the film is overexposed/too black, bony details will be lost.
* Rotation: Evaluate the clavicals. They should appear symmetric and equal in length. Now systematically work through the x-ray.
Evaluate the film with ABCDEFGH pneumonic.
* Airway: are the trachea and mainstem bronchi patent; is the trachea midline?
* Bones: are the clavicles, ribs, and sternum present and are there fractures, lytic lesions?
* Cardiac silhouette: is the diameter of the heart > ½ thoracic diameter (enlarged)?
* Diaphragm: are the costophrenic and costocardiac margins sharp? is one hemidiaphragm enlarged over another? is free air present beneath the diaphragm?
* Effusion/Empty space: is either present?
* Fields (lungs): are there infiltrates, increased interstitial markings, masses, air bronchograms, increased vascularity, or silhouette signs?
* Gastric bubble: is it present and on the correct (left) side?
* Hilar region: is there increased hilar lymphadenopathy?
Now check the places you forgot to look:
1. Soft Tissue - Breast shadows, supraclavicular regions, axillae, chest wall. Look for thickness, subcutaneous emphysema (air bubbles-dark spots), calcifications (bright spots).
2. Behind the heart... [continues]
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