What is Fluoroscopy Used to Diagnose?

Reviewed on 1/29/2021

What is fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy can diagnose or aid in diagnosis of many conditions. It refers to using X-rays from a CT scanner to bounce off a mildly radioactive tracer, whether swallowed, administered as an enema or injected into veins. The X-rays make the tracer glow or “fluoresce,” showing the structure and real-time function of the organ or system on a screen.
Fluoroscopy can diagnose or aid in diagnosis of many conditions. It refers to using X-rays from a CT scanner to bounce off a mildly radioactive tracer, whether swallowed, administered as an enema or injected into veins. The X-rays make the tracer glow or “fluoresce,” showing the structure and real-time function of the organ or system on a screen.

Doctors and radiologists can view many systems of the body using fluoroscopy:

Fluoroscopy can be used alone or in conjunction with other imaging modalities such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to perform a wide variety of diagnostic examinations and procedures. Below are its few common uses:

It is used for placing devices into the body, such as stents, which are used to open narrow or blocked blood vessels and arteries. It is also helpful to study about the blood flow to the organs.

An angiogram is a diagnostic examination that uses a fluoroscope and contrast dye to visualize the blood vessels, blood flow, and organs.

It is used for conducting orthopedic surgery using real-time X-ray images to guide joint replacements and treat fractures.

It is used for visualizing the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract to determine the cause of intestinal-related problems, such as acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, or abdominal pain.

What are the types of fluoroscopy?

Below are common types of fluoroscopy:

What happens during a fluoroscopy procedure?

Fluoroscopy is a term that basically means live X-ray pictures. It is a type of imaging exam that is similar to an X-ray but has the benefit of offering a “live” look inside the body.

  • These procedures generally take 45-60 minutes.
  • After changing into a hospital gown, the patient lies on a bed-like table that can be positioned horizontally or vertically.
  • X-rays are taken while the patient stays very still.
  • Prior to the exam, the physician may give contrast materials. If the patient has an allergy to contrast materials such as barium, they should inform the doctor or the technologist before their exam.
  • Imaging technicians generally perform fluoroscopies. A board-certified radiologist will interpret the results and send a report to the physician in a timely fashion.

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How does fluoroscopy work?

Fluoroscopy uses X-rays that are a form of radiation. X-rays pass through some objects such as clothes, the skin, the blood, and the body tissues but not through the bones. Hence, the bones and other structures can cast shadows over the X-ray that can be studied..

Fluoroscopy uses continuous or pulsed X-ray beam to create a sequence of images that are projected onto a fluorescent screen or television-like monitor. When used with an oral contrast material, which clearly defines the area being examined by making it appear bright, this special X-ray technique makes it possible for the physician to view internal organs in motion. Still images are also captured and stored either on film or electronically.

What are the benefits and risks of a fluoroscopy exam?

Fluoroscopy exams are safe, easy, and generally painless. The main risk of fluoroscopy is its use of ionization radiation to create images; the amount of radiation required varies depending upon the exam. Some imaging-guided interventional procedures using fluoroscopy can use significantly more ionization radiation than an X-ray alone, which at higher levels may have detrimental effects on your health.

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

FDA


University of Rochester Medical Center


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