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Fluoroscopy

 A fluoroscopy is a live X-ray that creates real-time images.  It is especially useful for diagnosing upper or lower digestive tract disorders (barium enema, barium swallow) or joint problems (arthrography).  The live images can help a doctor determine how a structure is functioning.  Fluoroscopy is also used in the operating room for many procedures, particularly for orthopedic surgery and the placement of most implanted devices. 
 
Preparation
 
You will receive specific preparation instructions when you make your appointment.  Preparation varies depending on the type of fluoroscopy that will be done.  There is no special preparation for an arthrography.  Instructions for upper and small bowel series usually include not eating or drinking after midnight prior to your procedure.  Instructions for barium enema preparation usually include consuming a liquid diet 24 hours prior to the appointment and using a bowel preparation kit. 
 
You will need to remove metal objects from your body, such as jewelry or watches.  Women should state if they are pregnant, might be pregnant, or have an IUD.  You will wear an examination gown for the procedure.
 
Procedure
 
Regular X-rays are taken before the fluoroscopy.  The technician will position your body and ask you to remain still while the images are taken.  These are called scout films.  The next step in the process depends on the type of fluoroscopy you are having. 
 
 
Arthrography
 
A local anesthesia will be injected near your joint.  A contrast dye will be inserted into the joint with a syringe.  Xrays will be taken of your joint in different positions as the dye is circulated in the joint.  Following the procedure, you should rest your joint for about 12 hours.  Ice packs may help reduce swelling.
 
Barium Enema
 
You will be positioned on a table.  A small tube will be gently inserted into your colon through your anus.  The tube is used to deliver air and barium, a contrast material, into the colon to provide more detailed images.  You will be instructed to change positions as the images are taken to allow for views from various angles.  After the images are taken, the tube and barium are removed and you will use the restroom to void the remaining barium and air.  More images may be taken after the barium is voided.
 
Your stools may appear white for a few days following your fluoroscopy.  You should drink plenty of fluids and resume a normal diet as instructed.
 
Barium Swallow
 
You will drink barium, a contrast solution.  The radiologist will monitor the barium as it travels through your upper digestive tract.  You may feel the urge to belch, but try your best not too.  You may be repositioned several times to allow images from different views.  You may be asked to hold your breath while the images are taken to prevent blurred pictures.  In addition to the fluoroscopy, still images may be taken as well.
 
Your stools may appear gray or white for a few days following your fluoroscopy.  You should drink plenty of fluids and resume a normal diet as instructed.
 
A radiology technician may perform your test, but is not qualified to diagnose or discuss your condition or results with you.  A radiologist or your doctor will review your test results with you.
 

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.