Nontraumatic Thoracic Emergencies

Jean Jeudy, MD ; Stephen Waite, MD ; Charles S. White, MD

Acute chest pain is one of the most common complaints of patients who present to an emergency department, and accounts for up to 5% of all visits. It also is one of the most complex issues in an emergency setting because, although clinical signs and symptoms often are nonspecific, rapid diagnosis and therapy are of great importance. The chest radiograph remains an important component of the evaluation of chest pain, and usually is the first examination to be obtained. Nevertheless, cross-sectional imaging has added greatly to the ability to characterize the wide constellation of clinical findings into a distinct etiology. This article reviews how the various entities that can present as nontraumatic chest pain can manifest radiographically.