Chest x-ray as an essential part of routine medical examination: is it necessary?

Med J Malaysia. 2012 Dec;67(6):606-9.


Introduction: Various studies in primary care and hospitalized patients have discouraged routine use of chest x-ray (CXR) in medical examination.

Purpose: The study aims to determine the prevalence of abnormal routine CXR and cost of one CXR at a public health clinic and discuss the rationale of CXR in routine medical examination.

Methodology: Data of patients who visited Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Kota Bharu (KKBKB), a public health clinic, from 1 January until 31 December 2010 were examined. The study used cross-sectional design. All patients who came for medical examination and CXR at KKBKB were included. Cost analysis was performed from the perspective of provider.

Findings: About 63.1% of 8315 CXR films in KKBKB were produced as part of routine medical examination. Prevalence of abnormal CXR was 0.25%. The cost of producing one CXR ranges from RM15.87 to RM32.34.

Discussion: Low yield from CXR screening and high cost of CXR are the main concern. CXR screening would also lead to unnecessary radiation; and false-positive screening resulting in physical risk, unwarranted anxiety and more expenditure. CXR screening is appropriately reserved for high-risk patients and those with relevant clinical findings.

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Radiography, Thoracic*
  • X-Rays