Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that shows a continuous X-ray image on a monitor, much like an X-ray movie. During a fluoroscopy procedure, an X-ray beam is passed through the body. The image is transmitted to a monitor so the movement of a body part or of an instrument or contrast agent (“X-ray dye”) through the body can be seen in detail.
Fluoroscopy procedures are performed to help diagnose disease, or to guide physicians during certain treatment procedures. Some fluoroscopy procedures may be performed as outpatient procedures while the patient is awake – for example, upper gastrointestinal series to examine the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, or a barium enema to examine the colon.
As with conventional radiology, an X-ray beam is passed through the body but instead of being registered on film, the image is displayed on a fluorescent screen. Modern versions digitize the image using ‘flat panel’ detector systems, which reduce the radiation dose required. The image is then intensified digitally and displayed on a screen or recorded for more detailed analysis later.
Fig. 1: The colon is clearly seen on the air-contrast barium enema. The white areas are barium (contrast) and the black regions are air.
Contrast agents are used to make organs in the body visible on the images. They can be given by injection into the blood stream or via tubes into internal organs. Barium products, taken orally, are used for examining the gastro-intestinal system. Fluoroscopy is used in many types of examinations and procedures, e.g. barium X-rays and enemas to view movement through the gastro-intestinal tract