Fluoroscopy: How It’s Used and What to Expect

Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that uses X-rays to obtain real-time images of the body’s internal structures. This procedure is generally used to diagnose and treat various conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, musculoskeletal problems, and cardiovascular disease.

Fluoroscopy is a safe and effective way to get a clear picture of what is happening inside the body. For this reason, doctors use fluoroscopy for diagnostic purposes and procedure guidance.

Fluoroscopy can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions and illnesses, such as tumors, blockages, and other abnormalities. A doctor may order fluoroscopy if they suspect their patient has one of these conditions.

Doctors can also use fluoroscopy when placing catheters, stents, and even orthopedic surgery. Fluoroscopy visually guides healthcare providers when performing angioplasties and cardiac catheterizations.

While fluoroscopy is a generally safe and effective procedure, some patients may feel anxious or uncomfortable about having it done. It is important to understand what the procedure involves and how it can help to ease any concerns you may have.

Types of Diagnostic Fluoroscopy


Healthcare providers typically use fluoroscopy to diagnose medical conditions. Some of the types of diagnostic fluoroscopy include:

Barium Swallows

A barium swallow is a diagnostic test that uses X-rays to examine the throat and esophagus. The test involves drinking a contrast solution containing barium, which coats the inside of these organs and makes them visible on X-ray.

A barium swallow is used to diagnose various conditions of the throat and esophagus, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernia, ulcers, tumors, or inflammation. The test can also assess how well the throat and esophagus muscles are working.

Barium enemas

A barium enema is a procedure in which barium sulfate, a radiopaque contrast agent, is introduced into the rectum and colon via the anus. The barium sulfate coats the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and makes it visible on X-ray or fluoroscopic examination.

Barium enemas help doctors evaluate conditions such as intestinal obstruction, inflammation, or malignant tumors. They may also detect abnormal contours or areas of bleeding in the intestine.

A radiologist or gastroenterologist typically performs the procedure. A nurse or technologist will insert a flexible tube (catheter) into the patient’s anus and slowly inject the barium sulfate solution into the rectum and colon. The patient may need to change positions during the procedure to help distribute the barium evenly.

Once the barium has coated the intestine, the technician will take the X-ray or fluoroscopic images. These images will help medical professionals evaluate the structure and function of the intestine.


Angiography is a radiographic technique used to visualize the inside of blood vessels. It is commonly used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, aneurysms, and arteriovenous malformations. The procedure involves the injection of a contrast agent into the bloodstream, which then outlines the blood vessels on X-ray images.

Angiography can be performed using either invasive or non-invasive techniques. Invasive angiography involves the insertion of a catheter into an artery. In contrast, non-invasive angiography uses computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to obtain images of the blood vessels.


Cystography is a radiological examination of the urinary bladder. It is performed using an x-ray machine, and a contrast agent is injected into the bladder through a catheter. The contrast agent helps to visualize the outline of the bladder and any abnormalities within it. Cystography diagnoses conditions such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, tumors, and other irregularities.


Myelography is an imaging technique used to visualize the spinal cord. It involves injecting a contrast agent into the space around the spinal cord, which allows doctors to visualize the cord more clearly in imaging studies. Myelography can evaluate various conditions, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and tumors. The procedure is generally safe, but some risks include allergic reactions to the contrast agent or nerve damage.


The hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a particular x-ray test used to evaluate the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes. The HSG is usually performed as part of an infertility evaluation.

During the procedure, a small amount of contrast material gets injected into the uterus through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. The contrast material then flows into the fallopian tubes and fills them. As the fallopian tubes fill with contrast material, they become visible on the x-ray images.

The HSG can help your doctor evaluate the size and shape of your uterus and detect any abnormalities in the uterine cavity. Additionally, the HSG can help assess whether or not your fallopian tubes are open.

What to Expect When Undergoing Fluoroscopy?

The fluoroscopy procedure typically occurs in an examination room at a hospital or clinic. You will need to lie on a table while a technician positions a special X-ray machine over the specific area of your body.

The machine will emit a continuous stream of X-rays that pass through your body during the procedure. A special camera detects these X-rays and displays them on a monitor. This allows the doctor to see real-time images of your internal structures.

The fluoroscopy procedure is generally quick and easy, and most patients do not experience any discomfort. In some cases, however, you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods or to change positions so the doctor can get a better view of specific areas.

After the procedure, you can go about your day as usual. There is no recovery time or special care needed after fluoroscopy.

If you have any concerns about having fluoroscopy, be sure to discuss them with your doctor beforehand. They can answer any questions you have and help put your mind at ease.

Schedule Your Diagnostic Imaging Appointment Today

If your doctor schedules a fluoroscopy procedure, call ImageCare Centers immediately. We offer state-of-the-art imaging at a fraction of the cost of hospitals and urgent care clinics. Our trained specialists and technicians can help you through every aspect of your procedure – from scheduling to recovery. Contact us today at 973-871-3333 to schedule an appointment or complete our convenient online appointment request form.