What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is performed in a room with special equipment that allows the radiologist to watch the exam on a monitor in real time.

Fluoroscopy is commonly used to examine the gastrointestinal system and for arthrography. 

The upper GI series evaluates the esophagus and stomach; and the small bowel series evaluates the small intestine. 

Barium is usually used in gastrointestinal studies to coast the digestive tract and make it stand out from other organs on the x-ray images. 

Arthrography is a fluoroscopy procedure which visualizes the internal structures of a joint.  A dye (contrast material) is injected in to the joint, such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee or ankle.


How do I prepare for my Fluoroscopy exam?

Tell your doctor is you area, or suspect you might be pregnant.  If you are scheduled for and upper GI series or small bowel series, you should be fasting for at least six hours prior to the exam.  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 your exam.

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.  At the start of the exam, you will be given a packet of effervescent granules to swallow with a small amount of water.  These granules will release gas to distend the stomach. You will then be given a cup of barium to drink.  The radiologist will monitor the passage of the barium throughout your upper GI tract, taken multiple films.  The technologist may take additional x-ray films after this.  This procedure takes approximately thirty minutes.  If you are scheduled for a small bowel series, x-ray films will be taken at fifteen, and sometimes thirty-minute intervals to record 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 an arthrogram, preliminary x-rays of the joint may be obtained.  You will be positioned on the fluoroscopy table.  Your skin will be cleansed and a local anesthetic will be applied.  The radiologist will insert a needle in to your joint using the fluoroscope as a guide.  You may feel pressure or 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 your doctor or the technologist. You may notice a whitish tinge to your stools for several days after the exam as you 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 within a day or two.