What is Fluoroscopy?
Fluoroscopy is a way of studying moving body structures with a view similar to an X-Ray. Using a continuous X-Ray beam, a physician can examine a part of the body in present time. Using a fluoroscope, the X-Ray beam is transmitted to a monitor that the physician can watch to view parts of body systems such as respiratory, skeletal, and the digestive system.
The main reason to perform a Fluoroscopy is to assist the physician with an exam or procedure. These exams and procedures include but are not limited to: barium X-Rays, cardiac catheterization, arthrography, lumbar puncture, and biopsies.
How does Fluoroscopy work?
Depending on the reason for the fluoroscopy, patients’ experiences may be different. Fluoroscopy may be performed outpatient or in addition to a stay at the hospital. The patient’s conditions and doctors’ protocols will determine the process.
In general cases, the fluoroscopy process is the following:
- The patient must remove any clothing or jewelry over or near the body area of examination. This is due to metal causing an interference with the fluoroscope and potentially skewing the results from inaccurate diagnostic imaging. If the patient must remove clothing due to buttons, zippers, etc., a gown will be provided.
- Depending on the procedure, a contrast solution may be given. Contrast, or dye, helps the doctor better visualize the structure(s) being studied. Some may even use fluoroscopy to ensure they are injecting the dye into the correct location. The contrast will be given via swallowing, enema, IV, or injection. Before drawing the line or injecting the dye, a lidocaine injection will most likely be used to decrease some of the pain of the IV.
- The patient will be positioned onto the exam table in either one or multiple positions depending on the procedure or exam. Once in the correct position, the patients will be asked to move a specific body part, hold their breath at certain times, or simply stay still.
- A special type of X-Ray called a Fluoroscope will then be used to perform the Fluoroscopy. Once the procedure or examination is over, the doctor will remove any lines, bandage the injection area, and that concludes the examination.
Fluoroscopy itself is not painful but depending on the procedure performed, the patient may feel pain or uncomfortable sensations.
What are the risks of Fluoroscopy?
The main risk associated with fluoroscopy comes from the use of radiation during the procedure. A patients particular situation may increase the risk of being exposed to radiation. It is important for the patient to make the physician performing the procedure aware of any prior exams that included the use of radiation in addition to if the patient is pregnant or suspects that they may be pregnant. Risks may also increase from cumulative exposure to radiation.
If contrast is used for the procedure, there is a risk of allergic reaction. Patients should make their physician aware of any allergies they have including medications, contrast, iodine, or latex. Patients should also make their physician aware of any kidney issues they may have.