What is Fluoroscopy?
Fluoroscopy helps your physician see the internal workings of different systems of the body through a continuous x-ray beam, which produces a real-time moving X-ray image, similar to watching a movie. Prior to the procedure, a contrast agent is introduced to the body. The contrast agent, sometimes called an “X-ray dye” may be administered orally, intravenously (IV) or rectally. During the procedure, the system or organ of interest appears bright white on a monitor, allowing your doctor to diagnose or rule out any disease or abnormalities.
What is it Used For?
Fluoroscopy can be used for many different diagnostic purposes. Some common examples of fluoroscopic procedures are:
- Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract (using Barium) X-rays: Barium is ingested through the mouth, allowing the physician to see movement in the stomach or to diagnose upper GI tract abnormalities in the esophagus with the use of the fluoroscope. This procedure can help to identify polyps, ulcers, tumors, diverticula, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) or motility issues such as difficulty swallowing. Procedure usually takes less than 1 hour. No food or drink 8 hours prior to your appointment.
- Lower Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Barium Enema: Barium is introduced rectally while the doctor uses the fluoroscope to take X-rays. This procedure allows for a detailed view of the lower digestive tract, helping the physician to see blockages, polypus, tumors or other abnormalities such a those associated with colitis and Crohn’s disease. 1-2 hour procedure. No food or drink 8 hours prior to your appointment and additional instructions may apply.
- Inravenous (IV) Catheters: placing hollow tubes inside veins or arteries with the aid of a fluoroscope and contrast dye for visual assistance. Procedure and recovery time vary.
- Cardiac Catheterization: the fluoroscope allows the physician to see the movement of blood in the coronary arteries and therefore diagnose and evaluate any arterial blockages. Also may be done before angioplasty or stenting for precision. Procedure and recovery time vary.
- Device placement: to assist with placing devices such as stents in the body. Procedure and recovery time vary.
Risks and Benefits
Because fluoroscopy is an X-ray procedure, the patient does receive radiation. The amount varies depending on the length of the procedure being performed. Although there is some risk of radiation-related harm, the risk level is so low that the benefits of the fluoroscopic procedure outweigh those risks. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you in detail, help you understand what your risk level is and explain how the benefits of the procedure make it the right choice for you as you come up with your treatment plan together. To ensure your safety, the physician always performs the procedure using the lowest possible exposure for the least amount of time that is required to accumulate information.