Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Published:

Indication and use of chest X-ray scans in the ICU


Chest X-ray scans are frequently performed in ICUs. It is uncertain how much clinical information all chest X-ray scans provide. There are currently no guidelines or protocols on this subject. We believe some of the chest X-ray scans performed were avoidable, limiting the cost for hospitals and radiation exposure to patients.


All chest X-ray scans performed in our 23-bed ICU and high dependency unit were monitored by asking the person ordering the X-ray scan to fill in the form confirming the indication for the chest X-ray scan. At the end of 1 month all forms were collected and analysed.


A total of 112 X-ray scans were performed in a 4-week period but only 102 forms were completed. Eighty-four out of 102 chest X-ray scans were taken for only one indication, with 36/84 for diagnosis of chest pathology. Fourteen X-ray scans were taken without completing the indication. Twenty-five per cent of X-ray scans were performed looking for two or more parameters, making them more cost-effective.


Routine chest X-ray scans are debatable. Post-procedure X-ray scans are not required if done by an experienced clinician. The presence of protocols for ordering the chest X-ray scan may reduce the total number of chest X-ray scans performed and so reduce the cost and radiation exposure. A picture archiving and communication system may reduce the overall cost.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shastri, P., Raghuraman, G. Indication and use of chest X-ray scans in the ICU. Crit Care 12 (Suppl 2), P527 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: