Fluoroscopy streams images of your internal systems at work.
Your medical provider can see real-time images with fluoroscopy, which is a form of X-ray. These images are an effective way to study the gastrointestinal (GI) system and evaluate your spine. The procedure consists of an X-ray tube 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 technologist will ask you to stand upright and lie down.
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.
Myelography (fluoroscopy and an injection of contrast material) evaluates the spinal cord, nerve roots and spinal lining (meninges). It is particularly useful for patients who cannot have an MRI of the spine following surgery and for assessing abnormal discs.
Arthrography (fluoroscopy and an injection of contrast material) evaluates and diagnoses joint conditions. It is effective for identifying abnormal ligaments, labrum, tendons and cartilage in your joints. This exam is often paired with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) to provide enhanced images of the joint.
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.