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What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a live motion study of body structures — similar to an X-ray "movie." A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined and is transmitted to a TV-like monitor so that the body part can be seen in detail.

Fluoroscopy enables the radiologist to look at many body systems, including the skeletal, digestive, urinary, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Fluoroscopy may be performed to evaluate specific areas of the body.

Fluoroscopy is used in many types of examinations and procedures, such as barium studies of the gastrointestinal tract, arthrography (visualization of a joint or joints), hysterosalpingography (visualization of the female reproductive system), kidney and bladder studies and biopsies.  For example, in barium studies, fluoroscopy allows the radiologist to see the movement of the intestines as the barium moves through them.

How is fluoroscopy performed?

Although each facility may have specific protocols in place and specific examinations and procedures may differ, fluoroscopy procedures generally follow this process:

  1. The patient will be positioned on the X-ray table.
  2. A special radiology machine will be used to produce the fluoroscopic images of the body structure being examined or treated.
  3. Barium or a contrast substance may be ingested by the patient, instilled into different body parts or injected into an IV line in order to better visualize the structure being studied.
  4. For some procedures such as biopsies, arthrography and lumbar punctures, a needle will be directed into a body part using fluoroscopy to safely direct the needle.