Types of fluoroscopic imaging

Fluoroscopy is used in several types of exams and procedures including diagnostic exams and interventional radiology procedures.

Fluoroscopy exams and procedures include:

  • Barium studies — including upper GI and barium enema — to examine the digestive tract
  • Hysterosalpingography (HSG) to examine the uterus and fallopian tubes
  • Heart procedures such as cardiac catheterization to evaluate arterial blockages and heart function
  • Arthrography to examine joints
  • Intravenous pyelogram and voiding cystourethogram to examine the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra
  • Image-guided biopsies
  • Image-guided anesthetic injections
  • Locating a foreign object trapped in the body

What to expect

Fluoroscopy exams can range in time from 30 minutes to up to three hours. Depending on your type of exam, you may be asked to prepare by:

  • Changing into a hospital gown
  • Removing any metal objects including jewelry
  • Not eating for a few hours before the procedure

Most fluoroscopy procedures require the use of a contrast agent or medium such as barium. The contrast medium can help show tissues and organs that would not otherwise be visible in an X-ray. For gastrointestinal imaging, the contrast material may be swallowed or given via enema. Other contrast agents may be administered intravenously.

Some patients may experience flushing, nausea, headache or a salty metallic taste after receiving intravenous contrast agents. Let your technologist know if you have any allergies including those to contrast material or iodine. Itchiness or shortness of breath may indicate an allergic reaction. Report any symptoms of an allergic reaction immediately.

Fluoroscopy uses ionizing radiation, which can be harmful to a developing fetus. Inform your technologist if you may be pregnant.