Key messages

• All the lung fields should be included. The depth of inspiration should be adequate. The patient should be centered and not significantly rotated.

• Exposure should allow visualization of the peripheral vasculature yet be adequate to visualize the intervertebral disk spaces through the heart.

• All life-support equipment should be accounted for and in proper position, particularly endotracheal tubes, central catheters, and nasogastric tubes.

• The mediastinum should be assessed for heart size, evidence of hematoma, vascular volume status, barotrauma, and patent central airways.

• The lung fields should be examined for evidence of pneumothorax (including tension pneumothorax), aspiration, contusion, atelectasis and pneumonia, effusion, edema, and pulmonary vascular volume status.

• The vertebral column, paraspinal lines, ribs, and shoulder girdle should be searched for evidence of fracture or hematoma. The soft tissues give evidence of local injury as well as systemic interstitial volume. Evidence of free intraperitoneal or retroperitoneal air and hepatosplenomegaly should be sought.

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