Fluoroscopy

Fluoroscopy uses x-rays to study moving body structures in real time. A continuous x-ray beam passes through the body and illuminates a viewable screen similar to a television. Fluoroscopy enables radiologists to assess many body systems including bones, joints, lungs, the digestive and urinary tracts, and the reproductive system.

Contrast media, such as barium sulphate and iodine-based dyes, are used to fill the area of interest, or outline soft tissue organs for more detailed visualisation and improved assessment.

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your doctor and the radiographer before your x-ray. During pregnancy, radiation exposure should be avoided to minimise harm to the foetus.

Fluoroscopy procedures are performed at the following Global Diagnostics locations:

Before your fluoroscopic examination

The radiographer or nurse will explain the procedure to you and give you the opportunity to ask any questions. You may be asked to read and sign a consent form that gives your permission for the test. Read the form carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand. You may need to follow simple instructions, such as fasting, depending on what test your doctor has requested. Our staff will explain any preparation you need to follow when you make your booking.

A small percentage of people are allergic to contrast media. Please inform the radiographer or nurse before your examination, if you:

  • Suffer from asthma
  • Are allergic to iodine
  • Have had a previous reaction to the contrast dye used for x-ray
  • Have impaired or reduced kidney function
During your fluoroscopic examination

Generally, fluoroscopy follows this process:

You will be asked to remove any jewellery, or clothing with metal clips, zips or buttons as these show up on x-rays. If you need to remove any clothing you will be given a gown to wear. Depending on which test your doctor has requested a contrast agent may be given which is introduced through ingestion, an enema, or an injection through a vein, usually at the elbow. For some examinations, contrast is injected through a catheter inserted into the body part.

You will lie on an x-ray table in a position that enables optimal visualisation of the area of interest, and you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds, to reduce movement. The length of the examination varies according to the type of type of procedure and the body part being examined, but you should expect to be with us for at least an hour.

While fluoroscopy itself is not painful, the particular procedure being performed may cause some discomfort. For example you may experience some pain if you have to have a vein or joint injection, but the radiographer or radiologist will do their best to minimise any pain, which could include giving a local anaesthetic.  Please inform our staff during the procedure if you are in discomfort or in pain.

You’ll notice that staff in the room wear lead gowns and sometimes neck and eye protection to reduce exposure to radiation. Our staff will ensure you receive the lowest radiation dose possible to gain the high-quality images needed for diagnosis.

After your fluoroscopic examination

The type of care needed after the procedure will depend on the type of fluoroscopy you have. But for most studies you can return to normal activities straight away. If there is any post-procedure care, this will be fully explained to you. If you need someone to drive you home afterwards you will be advised when you make your booking. If you notice any pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site after you return home, you should notify the branch you attended and your GP as this could indicate an infection or reaction.

One of our radiologists will interpret the fluoroscopy findings and provide your doctor with a comprehensive report. You will need to return to the doctor who referred you to discuss your results.

Arthrography – joint study

Arthrography assesses bony joints, such as the hip, shoulder, ankle or knee. Any excess joint fluid might be withdrawn with a needle before contrast media is injected. After the contrast is injected, you may be asked to move the joint around to distribute contrast media evenly.

Injecting contrast media and/or air into a joint space enables the radiologist to assess the cartilage, ligaments, tendons and other structures. Once the contrast has been introduced into the joint more detailed images are acquired using fluoroscopy, CT or MRI.

Barium study – gastrointestinal tract

In barium studies, fluoroscopy enables the radiologist to assess the intestine as barium passes through the region of interest. Water-soluble contrast agents such as Gastrografin are used to outline the gastrointestinal tract in cases where barium sulphate is unsatisfactory, undesirable or contraindicated, such as an obstruction or potential bowel leak.

  • Barium swallow – for swallowing disorders
  • Barium meal – for the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • Small bowel study – anatomy and movement of the small bowel
  • Double contrast Barium enema – use barium and air to outline the bowel.
Cystography – bladder

Contrast media is introduced through a small catheter to outline the bladder. A micturating cystourethrogram or MCU is used to assess the urinary tract in children who are suspected of having ureteric reflux, which means urine in the bladder goes back up the ureters in the wrong direction.

Hysterosalpingography or HSG – female reproductive system

Hysterosalpingography is used to assess the female reproductive system in women with infertility. Contrast medium is injected into the uterus through a small catheter. The passage of contrast through the uterus and fallopian tubes is followed using fluoroscopy. The test will show the shape of the intrauterine cavity, the width and patency of the fallopian tubes. There might be some discomfort as the fluid passes through the tubes.

Intravenous Pyelogram or IVP – urinary tract

An IVP is used to assess the urinary tract. An injection of contrast media or dye is given through a vein, usually at the elbow. Because dye is opaque on x-rays, when the kidneys excrete the dye the kidneys, ureters and bladder become visible on x-rays and fluoroscopy. A series of images, taken at set intervals after the injection, demonstrates the passage of the contrast media through the urinary tract.