Medical Q&As

Chest pain - can I have an x-ray?

For several months now I have had a pain in my ribs, left hand side, to the left of my breast. The pain comes and goes and it feels hot and very uncomfortable in the evenings and at night. I have taken difene at various times which eases the pain but there is no sign of it going completely. I have seen my GP but I feel at this stage that I should have an x-ray but my GP thinks it will go of its own accord. Do I have to have a GP referral letter before I can have an x-ray?

You do have to be referred by your GP to have an x-ray. It is important to realise that x-ray examination involves exposure to radiation and the general trend nowadays is to minimise exposure to radiation as much as possible. Therefore x-ray examinations are usually reserved for situations where there is a clear medical need for them to be performed. You may have particular concerns about this pain, which I would suggest you should discuss with your GP, if you have not already done so. Your GP could be treating this situation as a self-limiting episode that will resolve and yet you might be deeply troubled that there could be something more sinister going on. Your GP won’t be aware of this unless you make this known. Finally an x-ray may not contribute much additional information that would be of help to your GP in assisting you further. But if you are not happy with the current situation talk to your GP or seek another opinion.