Figure 1: A chest radiograph showing wavery dark lines at both apices of the lung. Click on image to enlarge.  



A whole manner of things can appear as artefact on plain radiographs, and one of the commonest to see this on is the chest film.


Radiographers should and do their very best to ensure artefacts are not projected over the films, obscuring detail and creating issues of concern.  For example, coins or cigarette lighters in shirt pockets, jewellery, or beads on clothing.


One of the more subtle of artefacts is hair.  This is usually in females and particularly in those with long or dense hair, such as Afro-Caribbeans, and in those who for religious or other purposes cover their head.


The hair artefact is typically apparent due to air being trapped between strands of hair, and therefore usually has a linear or striated appearance. This is normally projected over the lower neck or lung apices (Figures 1 and 2).


It is important to be aware of the potential of hair artefact, in particular if there are concerns it may mimic no mediastinum or a small apical pneumothorax.


Figure 2: Annotated chest radiograph of Figure 1 with red arrows pointing at the dark wavery lines artifact at both apices of the lung, representing hair over the neck.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Figure 3: Annotated chest radiograph of both apices of the lung showing the hair artifact represented by the red lines. 

(Click on image to enlarge)



Images and text contributed and prepared by

Dr Ian Bickle, Department of Radiology,RIPAS Hospital

All images are copyrighted and property of RIPAS Hospital.