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Floroscopy streams images of your internal systems as they work

Fluoroscopy is a type of X-ray that can help you and your medical team see an organ or bodily system as it is working. Rather than seeing a static X-ray, fluoroscopy produces a continuous image, much like a video. This procedure is an effective way to study your gastrointestinal (GI) system. To perform this exam, your healthcare provider uses a fluoroscope, which consists of an X-ray source and a fluorescent screen for monitoring.

Upper GI exams

The upper GI tract includes the pharynx, esophagus, stomach and duodenum, which is part of the small intestine. The exam is painless and typically takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. You will drink a liquid that contains barium sulfate and water. This contrast medium helps create clearer images. You may also receive effervescent crystals with the contrast material to further improve the images. During the exam, the technician will ask you to stand upright and lie down. In some cases, if requested by the radiologist, X-rays will accompany the exam.

Lower GI exams

The lower GI exam (or barium enema) creates images of the large intestine, or colon, and sometimes the appendix. The procedure typically takes 30 to 60 minutes. The exam includes an enema and is generally not painful. You will experience a feeling of fullness, the need to go to the bathroom and sometimes cramping.

For your safety

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. Your doctor may decide to postpone the exam or use an alternative exam to reduce the possible risk of exposing your baby to radiation.