X-Ray & Fluoroscopy

X-Ray & Fluoroscopy

What is a digital x-ray?

X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that can be focused into a beam. Unlike a beam of light, x-rays can pass through many objects, including the human body. When x-rays strike a piece of photographic film or a digital sensor, they produce a picture. Dense tissues in the body, such as bones, block (absorb) many of the x-rays and appear white on an x-ray. More x-rays pass through less dense tissues, such as muscle, which appear in shades of gray. X-rays that pass only through air, such as x-rays of the lungs, appear black.

Digital x-ray is a form of x-ray imaging where digital sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. Advantages include time efficiency, through bypassing chemical processing, and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images. While conventional x-rays are viewed on a “view box,” digital x-rays are viewed on a computer monitor. Digital x-rays are saved as a digital file and are part of a patient’s medical record.

How do I prepare for my digital x-ray?

Tell your doctor if you are, or suspect you might be pregnant.

You will need to remove jewelry or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray picture. No other preparation is needed.

What can I expect during my digital x-ray?

A registered technologist will discuss the procedure with you and answer any questions you might have. You will be taken to the examination room, where you will be positioned for the x-ray - either standing, sitting, or lying down on an x-ray table, depending on which part of your body is to be examined. After your x-rays have been taken, they will be processed and reviewed. Additional x-rays may be taken to supplement the initial exam.


What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is performed in a room with special equipment that allows the radiologist to watch the exam on a TV monitor in real time. Fluoroscopy is commonly used to examine the gastrointestinal (digestive) system and for arthrography.

The upper GI series evaluates the esophagus and stomach, the small bowel series evaluates the small intestine, and the barium enema, or lower GI series, evaluates the colon. Each exam requires the use of a special contrast agent - usually barium - that coats the digestive tract and makes it stand out from surrounding body tissues on the x-ray images.

Arthrography is a fluoroscopy procedure which visualizes the internal structures of a joint. During arthrography, a dye (contrast material) is injected into the joint. Arthrography can be performed on the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle.

How do I prepare for my Fluoroscopy exam?

Tell your doctor if you are, or suspect you might be pregnant.

If you are scheduled for an upper GI or small bowel series, you should not eat or drink anything for six hours prior to the exam. If you are scheduled for a barium enema, you will be given a "prep kit" to take the day before the exam. This kit contains diet instructions and laxatives. Please follow these instructions carefully. If you are scheduled for an arthrogram, tell your doctor if you have any allergies, especially to iodine or x-ray contrast. If you are allergic, medication will be prescribed for you to take prior to the testing.

What can I expect during my Fluoroscopy exam?

If you are scheduled for an upper GI series, a registered technologist will take you into the fluoroscopy room and you will be given a packet of effervescent granules to swallow with a small amount of water. These granules release gas into your stomach. You will then be given a cup of a liquid (barium) to drink. The radiologist will monitor the passage of the barium throughout your upper gastrointestinal tract, taking multiple "spot" films. The technologist will then take a number of additional x-ray films. This procedure takes approximately thirty minutes.

If you are scheduled for a small bowel series, x-ray films will be taken at fifteen minute intervals to record the passage of the barium throughout the small intestine. The average time for this exam is ninety minutes, although it can take longer.

If you are scheduled for a barium enema, the technologist will take you into the fluoroscopy room and insert an enema tip into your rectum. Barium will then be allowed to flow into your colon, causing you to feel somewhat uncomfortable. The radiologist will observe the flow of the barium throughout your colon with the fluoroscope, taking multiple "spot" films. The technologist will take a number of additional x-ray films, and then you will be allowed to evacuate the barium. An "air contrast" barium enema is similar, except that a smaller amount of barium is used to coat, rather than fill, the colon. Air is injected to finish distending the colon. This procedure takes about thirty minutes.

If you are scheduled for an arthrogram, preliminary x-rays of your joint may be obtained. The radiologist will position you on the fluoroscopy table. The skin overlying your joint will be cleansed and a local anesthetic will be applied. The radiologist will insert a needle into your joint with the help of the fluoroscope. You may feel pressure or some mild discomfort. Contrast material will be injected through the needle into the joint. The needle will then be removed. In some cases, your doctor will request a CT scan or an MRI to follow your arthrogram.

What will happen following my Fluoroscopy exam?

After your gastrointestinal exam, you may resume your normal activities, diet, and medications unless instructed otherwise by the technologist or your doctor. You may notice a whitish tinge to your stools for several days as you continue to evacuate the barium from your gastrointestinal tract. Drink extra fluids to help remove the barium from your system unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.

After your arthrogram, you should rest your joint for twenty-four hours, avoiding any strenuous activity. The contrast given for your exam will be eliminated in a day or two.

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