Daily routine chest radiographs largely affect clinical decisions about short-term patients’ care in an ICU. Chest radiography can be used to confirm other assessments and to plan appropriate care, and critical care nurses are often the first to view chest radiographs. The author presents information that nurses can use to interpret chest radiographs, including basic chest radiography, relevant anatomy and physiology, normal findings, and radiographic findings in common pulmonary and cardiac disorders.

In acute care settings, basic chest radiology is still used to quickly detect abnormalities in the chest,1 and chest imaging is an important tool in managing critically ill patients.2–,6 In a recent study, Marik and Janower6 concluded that daily routine chest radiographs affected clinical decisions about patients’ care for a large percentage of short-term patients in an intensive care unit (ICU).

However, nurses are often the ones who first view chest radiographs and...

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