IMAGING: FLUOROSCOPY

How It Works

The Fluoroscopy unit uses an X-ray beam, passed through the body to create an X-ray ‘movie.’ The images are captured and viewed on a fluoroscope, which looks like a small television. Unlike a traditional X-ray that produces a single image, fluoroscopy studies produce real-time video of the anatomy and how it moves.

Why We Do It

This imaging is conducted for a wide range of uses, all of which share the need to review body function in action. In addition to skeletal images, fluoroscopy is used to look at the digestive, urinary, respiratory and reproductive systems. However, there are many other instances for which this is a useful study.

The Experience

With most exams, you are given a contrast material that acts as a dye, highlighting specific areas to promote visibility and examination accuracy. Contrast is given using different methods, most commonly in the form of oral liquid, or injection.

Prep & Safety

Please refer to the page specific to your study type for your prep guidelines. You will also receive this information at the time you schedule your appointment. Because of the risk of radiation exposure to the fetus, pregnant women are advised to avoid this procedure. In all cases, alert us if you are diabetic or allergic to iodine. Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment unless otherwise indicated.

Prep Forms

Your Results

A radiologist who is specially trained to interpret fluoroscopy images will review them. If the examination was ordered “stat” your physician will be notified the same day. If the examination was routine, the results are provided to your physician within 48 hours.

COMMON QUESTIONS
Q.
What about radiation? Should I worry about exposure?
A.
This procedure uses more radiation than a typical X-ray. To minimize exposure, we have invested in equipment and staff that obtain the best quality images with the least amount of exposure.
Q.
What part of my body receives the radiation?
A.
It depends on the purpose of the study.

Types of scans

Esophagram

What: The esophagram test is ordered to assess a patient who has difficulty swallowing, has nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and weight loss. This test may show narrowing or irritation of the esophagus, blockages, hiatal hernia (a defect where the upper portion of the stomach slides through the diaphragm), abnormally enlarged veins that may cause bleeding in the esophagus, ulcers, polyps (non-cancerous growths), or tumors.

What to expect: During your study, you will be asked to drink carbonation crystals, then barium, to help the radiologist visualize the lining of your esophagus. This study typically takes 30 minutes.

Prep:

  • Do not eat, drink or smoke after midnight on the day prior to your study.
  • Bring medications with you to take after your study.
  • For patients under five years of age, do not eat or drink for four hours prior to the exam.

Upper GI

What: This is a diagnostic study that uses X-rays of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small bowel) with barium, air or both.

What to expect: Plan to spend 30 minutes for this study. You will begin in a standing position and asked to drink carbonation crystals. As the examination progresses, you will be asked to drink barium in different positions standing and laying down on the x-ray table. The Radiologist’s Assistant will watch you swallow the barium and will take images as it travels to your stomach.

During the process, you may be asked to turn from side to side, roll over, hold your breath, and hold different positions. This enables the Radiologist’s Assistant to capture views from several angles. For the small bowel examination, the Radiologist’s Assistant will take a series of X-rays at 20-minute intervals until the barium has moved through the small intestine.

Prep:

  • Have nothing to eat, drink or smoke after midnight.
  • Patients under five years of age should have nothing to eat or drink four hours prior to exam.
  • Bring prescribed medications with you the day of your study to take after the exam.

Upper GI with Small Bowel Study

What: This is a diagnostic study using X-rays of the esophagus, stomach and small bowel (Duodenum, Jejunum, and Ileum) with barium, air or both.

What to expect: Plan to spend up to five hours at the clinic. You will begin this study in a standing position and asked to drink carbonation crystals. As the examination progresses, you will be asked to drink barium in different positions standing and laying down on the x-ray table. The Radiologist’s Assistant will watch you swallow the barium and will take images as it travels to your stomach.

During the process, you may be asked to turn from side to side, roll over, hold your breath, and hold different positions. This enables the Radiologist’s Assistant to capture views from several angles. For the small bowel examination, the a technologist will take a series of X-rays at 20-minute intervals until the barium has moved through the small intestine.

Prep:

  • Have only a clear liquid lunch the day prior to your exam and clear liquids after that, all the way up to midnight.
  • After midnight, have nothing to eat, drink, or smoke.
  • Patients under five years of age should have nothing to eat or drink four hours prior to exam.
  • Patients who will have an upper GI and small bowel series of exams and have been constipated should take two Ducolax tablets two days prior to your exam (barium only).
  • Bring prescribed medications with you the day of your study to take after the exam.

Small Bowel Series

What: Fluoroscopy of the small bowel identifies obstructions or blockages, growths, scar tissue, ulcers, tears and Crohn's disease.

What to expect: Plan to spend up to four hours at the clinic. You will be given barium to drink. X-rays will be used to capture the image of the liquid (at 20 minute intervals) as it moves through your digestive system. Once the barium reaches the large intestine, you will be taken to the fluoroscopy room for additional x-ray imaging of your small bowel.

Prep:

  • Plan on spending up to four hours at Oregon Imaging Centers for this study.
  • Please have a clear liquid lunch the day prior to your exam, then only clear liquids between lunch and midnight. Have nothing to eat, drink or smoke after midnight.
  • Patients under five years of age should have nothing to eat or drink four hours prior to exam.
  • Adult patients who have been constipated should take two Dulcolax two days prior to their exam.
  • Children 5 years old to 80 pounds can take 1 Dulcolax tablet.
  • Bring prescribed medications with you to take after the study.

Colon & Large Intestine Study (Barium Enema)

What: A physician may order a lower GI examination to detect:

  • benign tumors (such as polyps)
  • cancer
  • signs of other intestinal illnesses

The procedure is frequently performed to help diagnose symptoms such as:

  • chronic diarrhea
  • blood in stools
  • constipation
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • unexplained weight loss
  • a change in bowel habits
  • suspected blood loss

Images of the bowel and colon are also used to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, a group of disorders that includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

What to expect: During your study, barium will be introduced into your colon via an enema tip inserted into your rectum. A small balloon on the enema tip will be inflated to help prevent you from moving your bowels. You will feel like you need to go to the bathroom. You will be asked to shift your position and hold your breath a few times while the X-rays are taken. During the imaging process, pressure may be applied to your stomach; this helps to get the best images. Air may also be added to the enema to enhance the images. At the end of the study, you will be able to go to the bathroom.

Prep: Click on this link to see "Patient Prep Instructions for Fluoroscopy Colon Exam"

Safety notes: Please notify our scheduling department and technologists if you:

  • Are diabetic.
  • Believe you may be pregnant.
  • Have had any previous surgery in the abdomen.
  • Had a recent colonoscopy, and if polyps were removed.
  • What were findings of your colonoscopy.
  • Have had anything to drink or eat before the test.
  • Are passing any solids the day of the exam.

Lumbar Puncture

What: A lumbar puncture uses a needle under X-ray guidance to draw spinal fluid for lab work. It is used to help diagnose:

  • Serious infections, such as meningitis and encephalitis
  • Bleeding around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage)
  • Certain cancers involving the brain and spinal cord
  • Certain inflammatory conditions of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome

What to expect: During your study, you will lie on your stomach on a motorized x-ray table that can be tilted up and down. Your back will be marked with a pen where the puncture will occur. This area is then sterilized. The sterilizing solution may feel cool or cold. Once sterile, the area will be draped. A local anesthetic is given prior to the lumbar puncture to make you more comfortable.

A long thin needle is inserted and the core of the needle will be removed to draw fluid. If no fluid is present, the needle will be repositioned or a different location may be chosen. A pressure reading may be taken. If so, the fluid is collected and sent to the lab for analysis. After the procedure, you can expect to remain in the x-ray department for up to one hour to minimize the chance of having a headache and to give your body a chance to replace the fluid that was drawn.

Prep:

  • Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam time.
  • With approval from your doctor or provider, discontinue use of blood thinners such as Coumadin or aspirin as directed by the Radiologist Assistant.
  • Arrange for a family member or friend to accompany you. We require you to have a driver before being discharged.
  • Do not eat 4 hours prior to exam; take clear liquids only. Continue medications as prescribed except for blood thinners, as noted above.

Myelogram

What: A myelogram may be used to determine the cause of arm or leg numbness, weakness or pain. It looks for narrowing of the spinal canal, spinal stenosis, spinal tumors or infection, herniated discs, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord and brain, and problems with blood vessels to the spine. It allows study of the spinal canal, nerve roots and spinal cord by injection of contrast solution into the spinal canal.

What to expect: During the study, you will lie on a motorized X-ray table that can be tilted up or down. You will lie on your stomach and your back will be marked with a pen where the puncture will occur. The area will be sterilized. The sterilizing solution may feel cool or cold. Once the needle is in place, the Radiologist’s Assistant will inject the contrast solution and take X-rays. After the myelogram, you will receive a CT scan to get more detailed cross-sectional images of your spine, which will be used in conjunction with the X-rays. After the procedure, you can expect to remain in the X-ray department for up to one hour to minimize the chance of having a headache and to give your body a chance to replace the fluid that was drawn.

Prep:

  • Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam time.
  • With approval from your doctor or provider, discontinue use of blood thinners such as Coumadin or aspirin as directed by the Radiologist’s Assistant.
  • Arrange for a family member or friend to accompany you. We require you to have a driver before being discharged.
  • Do not eat 4 hours prior to exam; take clear liquids only. Continue medications as prescribed except for blood thinners, as noted above.

General Joint Injection

What: A joint injection may be used to administer a steroid medication to help relieve chronic pain or inflammation. Your doctor may request an aspiration where a sample of joint fluid is collected and sent to the lab for analysis.

What to expect: During the study, you will lie on an X-ray table. The skin over the joint will be marked with a pen where the puncture will occur. The area will be sterilized. The sterilizing solution may feel cool or cold. Once the needle is in place, the Radiologist’s Assistant will inject the contrast solution to verify joint location and take X-rays. Subsequently a steroid anesthetic solution mixture will be injected into your joint(s).

Prep:

  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam time.
  • With approval from your doctor or provider, discontinue use of blood thinners such as Coumadin or aspirin as directed by the Radiologist’s Assistant.
  • Continue medications as prescribed except for blood thinners, as noted above.

Cystogram & VCUG

What: A cystogram is an exam used to check for problems of the bladder and lower urinary tract. A VCUG or Voiding Cystourethrogram is a functional study of the bladder and the urethra. VCUG studies are common for children and you may wish to follow this link to review our pediatric VCUG information.

What to expect: During your study, a small catheter (a thin, flexible, hollow tube), will be inserted into the bladder via the urethra. Contrast is injected into the tube to fill the bladder. You will be asked to hold your bladder while the radiologist or Radiologist’s Assistant takes X-rays. This is necessary to fully view the bladder. If we are also examining the urethra, after taking X-rays of your bladder, you will be asked to empty your bladder while the Radiologist’s Assistant captures more images using the X-ray. This study takes approximately 45 minutes.

Hysterosalpingogram

What: A Hysterosalpingogram is a study of the uterus and fallopian tubes, which is typically performed 10 days from the onset of the patient's last menstrual cycle. It is used to determine if the fallopian tubes are open, or if there are any apparent abnormalities or defects in the uterus. It can be used to detect tumors, scar tissue, or tears in the lining of the uterus. This procedure is often used to help diagnose infertility in women.

What to expect: Your legs will be bent with your feet on the outer edges of the table. X-ray equipment will be placed above your abdomen.

A speculum will be inserted into your vagina and a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) will be guided into the uterus through the cervix (the opening to the uterus). A small balloon in the catheter is inflated to hold it in place. A liquid water-based dye is injected through the catheter into the uterus. This process may cause cramping, minimal spotting/bleeding, and discomfort.

The radiologists will watch for blockages or abnormalities on an X-ray monitor as the dye spreads. Some patients experience mild cramping during this procedure. This procedure takes approximately 45 minutes.

Intravenous Pyelogram Study

What: An intravenous pyelogram, or IVP, is a functional X-ray examination of the kidneys, ureters and urinary bladder. It helps the physician assess abnormalities in the urinary system, as well as how quickly and efficiently the patient's system is able to handle waste.

The exam is used to help diagnose symptoms such as blood in the urine or pain in the side or lower back. The IVP exam can enable the radiologist to detect problems within the urinary tract resulting from:

  • kidney stones
  • enlarged prostate
  • tumors in the kidney, ureters or urinary bladder

What to expect: During the study, the technologist or a nurse will start an IV for the contrast agent, which is used to enhance the X-ray images. When the technologist injects the contrast through your IV, you may feel a flush of warmth or experience a metallic taste in your mouth. This is normal and will quickly subside. A series of x-rays will then be taken.

A radiologist will assess abnormalities in the urinary system and how quickly and efficiently your urinary system is functioning. At the conclusion of your exam, you may be asked to empty your bladder while additional X-ray images are taken. This study takes approximately one hour. Depending on your kidney function, your study may take longer.

Prep:

  • If you are 60 years of age and older or have kidney disease, a transplant, diabetes or chemotherapy, you must have basic metabolic panel labs drawn within the last 30 days.
  • Take two Ducolax tablets at 6 p.m. the evening prior to your study.
  • After midnight, the evening before your study, take nothing but clear liquids.
  • It is recommended to drink a minimum of 17oz of water prior to the exam unless on fluid restrictions.
  • If the patient is under six months of age, consume only clear liquid four hours prior to study.