The CXR is usually helpful in excluding other causes of breathlessness, such as pneumonia  or pneumothorax.

A normal CXR in the acutely short of breath patient would be more likely to suggest a pulmonary embolus or COPD/asthma.

Typical radiological findings are demonstrated in the following example CXRs.  They include pleural effusions, cardiogmegaly, interstitial and alveolar oedema and upper lobe diversion. Click on each CXR to see a larger version.

CXR – Large heart and interstitial and alveolar oedema

CXR – Bilateral pleural effusions and upper lobe diversion