Chest X-ray - Tubes

Tutorial key points

  • Chest X-rays are useful in establishing the anatomical location of certain medical devices following their placement
  • An understanding of the radiological anatomy of the chest is essential for the purpose of image interpretation in this context
  • Placement and misplacement of medical devices are associated with complications which are potentially life-threatening

Related tutorials

Chest X-rays are commonly used to confirm correct positioning of certain medical devices and to check for associated complications following placement or misplacement.

This tutorial describes the correct anatomical location following placement of common tube devices seen on chest X-rays. The following are discussed: endotracheal tubes (ET Tubes), nasogastric tubes (NG Tubes), central venous catheters (CV Catheters), and chest drains.

The tutorial covers the important principles associated with radiographic assessment of tube placement with reference to relevant radiographic anatomy. Common incorrect positions and associated complications are discussed briefly.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Complications arising from placement or misplacement of medical devices are common and can have serious clinical consequences, including the death of a patient. This tutorial only discusses the radiological aspects of tube placement and does not discuss indications for placement or methods used for placement. Formal training is mandatory prior to placement or repositioning of any medical device. Interpretation of chest radiographs following medical device placement should be performed by an appropriately trained and experienced clinician and in accordance with local guidelines. Radiology Masterclass takes no responsibility for clinical decisions made or actions taken by users of the site. To continue please read the full terms and conditions of use of the site.

Your course assessment certificate

A certificated course completion assessment is available which is based on the material in this tutorial and the related sections.

All the certificated online course completion assessments provided by Radiology Masterclass award CPD/CME credits in accordance with the CPD Scheme of the Royal College of Radiologists, London, UK.

Page author: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust UK (Read bio)

Last reviewed: July 2019