What is Fluoroscopy
Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures – similar to a “film” X-Ray. A continuous X-Ray beam is transmitted through the inspecting body component. The beam is transmitted to a TV-like display, enabling precise visualization of the body part and its motion. As an imaging instrument, Fluoroscopy helps doctors to look at multiple body structures, including the skeletal, digestive, urinary, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. Fluoroscopy can be used to examine particular parts of the body, including bones, muscles, and joints, as well as strong organs such as the heart, lung, or kidneys. Other related techniques which may be used to diagnose bone, muscle or joint disorders include X-rays, myelography (myelogram), computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI), and arthrography. For more details, please see these procedures.
Reasons for the Flouroscopy procedure
Fluoroscopy is used in many types of tests and procedures, including barium X-rays, cardiac catheterization, arthrography (visualization of a bone or organ), lumbar puncture, insertion of intravenous ( IV) catheters (hollow tubes inserted into veins or arteries), intravenous pyelogram, hysterosalpingogram, and biopsies. Fluoroscopy may be used as a diagnostic technique on its own or may be used in conjunction with other diagnostic or therapeutic means or procedures.
Fluoroscopy used on its own in barium X-rays allows the doctor to see the movement of the intestines as the barium passes through them and helps the doctor to position the patient for spot imaging. Fluoroscopy is used as an aid in cardiac catheterization to allow the doctor to see the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to determine the presence of arterial blockages. For the placement of intravenous catheters, Fluoroscopy lets the doctor direct the catheter to a particular position within the body.
Such fluoroscopic applications include, but are not limited to:
- Locating foreign bodies
- Image-guided anaesthetic injections into joints or the spine
- Percutaneous vertebroplasty: A minimally invasive procedure used to treat compression fractures of the vertebrae of the spine
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend Fluoroscopy.
Risks of the Flouroscopy procedure
You may want to ask your doctor about the amount of radiation used during the operation as well as the risks associated with your unique case. It is a good idea to keep a record of your past radiation exposure records, such as previous scans and other forms of X-rays, so you can keep your doctor updated. Risks associated with radiation exposure can be linked over a long period of time to the total number of X-Ray exams and/or treatments.
If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. Exposure to radiation during pregnancy may cause birth defects.
If contrast dye is used, the possibility of an allergic reaction to the dye occurs. Patients allergic to or vulnerable to drugs, contrast media, iodine, or latex should alert their physician. Patients suffering from kidney failure or other kidney disorders should also contact their doctor. Depending on your particular medical condition, there may be other dangers. Be sure to speak with your doctor about any questions prior to the operation. Any factors or conditions can interfere with the correctness of a Fluoroscopy procedure. A recent X-Ray procedure with barium can interfere with abdominal or lower back region exposure.
Before the Flouroscopy procedure
- Your doctor will describe the procedure to you and will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the procedure.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form allowing you to do the procedure.
- Carefully read the document, and ask questions if there is anything ambiguous.
- The particular type of procedure or test that is being performed can decide whether any planning is needed prior to the procedure.
- Your doctor will inform you of any recommendations about the pre-procedure.
- If you have ever had a reaction to some contrast dye, or if you are allergic to iodine, contact your doctor.
- If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor.
- Dependent on your prescription.
- Your doctor may recommend a more detailed preparation based on your medical condition.
During the Flouroscopy procedure
Fluoroscopy can be conducted on an outpatient or as part of a hospital stay. Procedures can differ according to your condition and the practices of your doctor.
Usually, Fluoroscopy follows this process:
- You will be required to remove any clothing or jewelry that may conflict with body area exposure to be inspected.
- If you are asked to remove your pants, you will be given a robe to wear.
- A contrast substance may be administered by swallowing, enema, or an intravenous ( IV) line in your hand or arm, depending on the type of procedure being performed.
- You are going to be sitting on the X-Ray table. You may be required to assume various roles depending on the type of operation, shift a certain part of the body or hold your breath at intervals while the Fluoroscopy is being performed.
- For procedures that involve the insertion of the catheter, such as cardiac catheterization or placement of the catheter into a joint or other body part, an additional line insertion site can be used in the groin, elbow, or elsewhere.
- The fluoroscopic images of the body structure being examined or treated are created using a special X-Ray machine.
- To help visualize the organs or structures being examined a dye or contrast material can be injected into the IV line.
- In the case of arthrography (visualization of a joint), any fluid inside the joint may be aspirated (withdrawn with a needle) before the contrast material is inserted.
- You may be required to rotate the joint for a few minutes after the contrast is applied, in order to spread the contrast material equally across the joint.
The type of treatment done and the section of the body being investigated and/or handled will decide the duration of the treatment. Upon completion of the procedure, the IV line will be removed.
While Fluoroscopy itself is not painful, the actual procedure being done may be painful, such as the angiography injection into a joint or the connection to an artery or vein. The radiologist would take all necessary comfort steps in these situations, which may include local anesthesia, conscious sedation or general anesthesia depending on the specific procedure.
After the Flouroscopy procedure
The type of treatment needed after the procedure will depend on the type of Fluoroscopy done. Many procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, would likely involve a multiple-hour recovery period of the leg or arm immobilization where the cardiac catheter was placed. Other procedures may take less recovery time.
If you experience any discomfort, redness and/or swelling at the IV site after returning home after your treatment, you should contact your doctor as this may suggest an infection or some form of reaction. After the test or treatment, the doctor will give you more detailed guidance on the care.