Chest radiographs remain one of the oldest, noninvasive methods for identifying chest diseases. This tool is relatively inexpensive, low risk, and important for the advanced practice nurse to use in making an initial differential diagnosis. Timely intervention depends on the advanced practice nurse’s ability to recognize the radiographic abnormalities commonly associated with acute pulmonary disease. When linked with the history, presenting signs and symptoms, and a thorough physical assessment, the chest radiograph is key to appropriate diagnosis and management. This article reviews the basic radiographic lung densities, describes a systematic approach to ensure thorough chest radiographic interpretation, and presents characteristic chest radiographs found in the acute care setting. Selected examples of diffuse lung diseases, localized alveolar opacities, pleural effusions, and hyperlucency of the lungs will also be presented.

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