Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures. It’s like an X-ray "movie" filmed while a contrast dye moves through a specific part of the body. A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part and sent to a video monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail. This imaging tool can be used to evaluate many body systems, including the skeletal, digestive, urinary, cardiovascular, respiratory and reproductive systems. Fluoroscopy may also be used to evaluate specific areas of the body, including the bones, muscles and joints, heart, lung or kidneys.
While fluoroscopy itself is not painful, the particular procedure may be involve an injection into a joint or accessing an artery or vein for angiography. In these cases, the radiologist will take all comfort measures possible, which could include local anesthesia, conscious sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the particular procedure.
Learn how to prepare for fluoroscopy and what to expect before, during and after the procedure.
Before the Procedure
The specific type of procedure or exam being done will determine whether you have to do any preparation before the procedure. Women should always inform their radiologist if they are breastfeeding or if there is any possibility they may be pregnant.
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses and dentures, may affect the fluoscopy images and should be left at home. You will be given a gown to wear and asked to remove jewelry, hearing aids and removable dental work. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire.
During the Procedure
The technologist begins by positioning you on the X-ray table. A contrast dye may be given, either by swallowing it, as an enema or in an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm, depending on the type of fluoroscopy.
You may be asked to move into different positions, move a certain body part or hold your breath for a short time while the fluoroscopy is being done. For procedures that require catheter insertion, such as cardiac catheterization, a needle may be put into the groin, elbow or other site.
A special X-ray scanner then produces fluoroscopic images of the body structure. The type of procedure being done and the body part being examined will determine the length of the procedure.
After the Procedure
After the procedure has been completed, the catheter and IV line will be removed. The type of care needed beyond that will depend on the type of fluoroscopy that is done. Certain procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, require a recovery period of several hours. Other procedures may need less time for recovery.
After the images have been interpreted, your radiologist or referring physician will discuss the findings with you.