What Is Fluoroscopy?

Question: What is Fluoroscopy?


Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique used by medical professionals to visualize internal organs while they are in motion. If an x-ray is a still picture, fluoroscopy is like a movie. The images are projected onto a monitor very similar to a television screen. This is very helpful for doctors because they can see exactly how an organ is functioning.

For example, when fluoroscopy is used during a cardiac catheterization, the physician can see how blood is moving through the blood vessels and where there are blockages. Fluoroscopy can be used on many parts of the body. Sometimes a dye or contrast material is used in conjunction with fluoroscopy to help medical experts visualize how the substance is moving through the body. A good example would be barium, which is used during a fluoroscopy of the intestines in order to see it moving through the bowels.

As a patient undergoing fluoroscopy, you will most likely be given an IV so that the dye, contrast material, or fluids can be administered directly to your bloodstream. You will lie on an x-ray table. From there on, your care will depend on what you are receiving fluoroscopy for. Consult your doctor or nurse for specific instructions regarding preparation for the procedure and the care you will require after fluoroscopy.

The x-ray machine that takes the images of your body does not cause pain or discomfort, but it does carry the same risks as an x-ray -- namely, that excess exposure to radiation may increase cancer risk later in life, and that there is a small chance the radioactive rays may harm your skin. If you are receiving fluoroscopy for a procedure such as cardiac catheterization, the procedure itself may carry other risks. Be sure to consult your physician regarding this information.

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