Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique used to visualise internal organs in the body whilst they are in motion using x-rays. If an x-ray is a still picture, fluoroscopy is like a movie. The images are projected onto a monitor very similar to a television screen. This is very helpful for doctors because they can see exactly how an organ is functioning.
For example, when fluoroscopy is used during a cardiac catheterisation, the physician can see how blood is moving through the blood vessels and where there are blockages. Fluoroscopy can be used on many parts of the body. Sometimes a contrast agent (a clear substance used to enhance the contrast of structures or fluids within the body) is used in conjunction with fluoroscopy to help doctors to visualize how the substance is moving through the body. A good example would be barium, which is used during a barium enema procedure in order to see it moving through the bowels.
The contrast agent may be administered directly to your bloodstream or body or you may be asked to drink it. You will lie on an x-ray table between the x-ray tube and the detector plate whilst images of your internal organs are taken. Sometimes you may be asked to turn during the procedure.
You will be sent specific instructions regarding preparation for the procedure you are having and the care you will require after fluoroscopy.
Fluoroscopy procedures are performed to help diagnose disease, or to guide physicians during certain treatment procedures. Most of our fluoroscopy procedures are performed as outpatient procedures while the patient is awake — for example, upper gastrointestinal series to examine the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine, or a barium enema to examine the colon.