What are fluoroscopy and X-ray?
Radiography or X-ray and fluoroscopy procedures seem similar. However, fluoroscopy obtains moving images of the inner part of the body and radiography uses gamma rays to develop a static image of the internal structure of a body. We can compare X-ray to a black and white photograph and fluoroscopy to a black and white animation.
How are X-ray and fluoroscopy different?
The technique used for X-ray and fluoroscopy technology is essentially the same with a few notable differences. They both use radiation energy on a particular part of the bone or body cavity for the purpose of obtaining images. Their other functions are
- X-rays are static images. They provide still images of the inside of the body.
- Fluoroscopy imaging provides a live “video” format image, which will show movements inside the body or of an instrument in the body.
- Fluoroscopy when done with contrast can highlight the inner lining of tubular organs of the body. These studies can help us study the ulcerations, localized narrowing of a particular part, etc.
- Theoretically, X-rays carry a smaller risk of radiation-related risks than fluoroscopy. Since fluoroscopy requires serial X-rays, the exposure time is greater.
What are the common types of fluoroscopy?
Fluoroscopy is an innovative technology that offers many benefits using X-rays. It uses the same technology as an X-ray to generate a working image for a doctor to interpret and decide a course of treatment for the patient. It creates the images in a video form, which can open many other opportunities for its usefulness. The fluoroscope allows the doctor to visualize the interior of the body as it moves and functions. Below are common types of fluoroscopy
- Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography (upper GI): This produces images of the esophagus, stomac, and proximal small intestine with barium-based contrast material. It is used to help diagnose causes of stomach pain, such as ulcers, foreign body or masses. When the upper GI tract is coated with the barium-based contrast (which is given to the patient as a drink), the radiologist can view and assess the anatomy and function of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (proximal small intestine).
- Lower gastrointestinal tract radiography (lower GI) or barium enema: It produces images of the inner lining of the large intestine to help detect disease and abnormalities. When the lower gastrointestinal tract is filled with barium-based contrast (which is given to the patient through a tube in the rectum/anus), the radiologist can view and assess the anatomy and function of the rectum, colon and sometimes parts of the lower small intestine.
- Hysterosalpingography or HSG: It uses fluoroscopy to examine the uterus and patency of the fallopian tubes of a woman who is having difficulty becoming pregnant. It can highlight the presence and severity of adhesions, uterine fibroids or tumor masses. Contrast material is administered through a catheter.
- Myelography: A myelogram is a fluoroscopy study of the spine. It helps the doctor assess the spinal cord, subarachnoid space or intervertebral disc and other structures for changes or abnormalities.
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