Chronic bronchitis chest x ray

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Seyedmahdi Pahlavani, M.D. [2]

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Generally, chest x ray is not recommended for chronic bronchitis diagnosis, but it is common to order it to rule out other causes of dyspnea and productive cough such as: pneumonia and heart failure. The common findings for chronic bronchitis includes: hyperinflation and hyperlucency of the lungs.

Chest X Ray

X-ray findings are not sensitive or specific for chronic bronchitis but it is helpful to look for diagnoses other than COPD that might cause the patient's symptoms including: pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or even lung cancer. Common radiologic findings include[1]:

  • Radiolucency
  • Diaphragmatic flattening due to hyperinflation
  • Increased retrosternal airspace on the lateral radiograph

Note the flattened diaphragm and increased intercostal spaces due to hyperinflation.


  1. Mehta GR, Mohammed R, Sarfraz S, Khan T, Ahmed K, Villareal M, Martinez D, Iskander J, Mohammed R (2016). "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A guide for the primary care physician". Dis Mon. 62 (6): 164–87. doi:10.1016/j.disamonth.2016.03.002. PMID 27087562.

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