Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses x-rays to create "real-time" or moving images of the body. It helps doctors see how an organ or body system functions. Fluoroscopy is used in a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. A radiologist (x-ray doctor) and radiologic technologist perform the procedures together.
Most fluoroscopic exams require the patient to lie on the table. The x-ray machine, called the "fluoro tower", is brought across the patient. The fluoro tower has a curtain on it so the patient feels like he/she is laying in a tent or small car wash!! In many cases the patient is given a contrast material to highlight specific organs and/or blood vessels so they can be seen on an image.
Contrast material can be swallowed, injected or given by an enema, depending on the type of exam and what part of the body is being studied. The radiologist is able to move the fluoro tower around to follow the contrast material wherever where it goes. The patient may be asked to move around in different positions so that we can take pictures of the exact area of interest. The images are viewed on a television monitor in the room, usually at the head of the x-ray table, so that the radiologist is able to see!
Radiation Safety for Fluoroscopic Procedures
The specialized equipment used in fluoroscopic procedures minimizes the amount of radiation the patient receives. Many safety measures are taken to limit the dose of radiation to the patient and other people who are in the fluoroscopic room during the exam. Some of these are:
Lead shielding to block the x-rays from being absorbed. The lead shield for the patient is located on the table. Lead aprons are worn by the parents and hospital staff during the entire exam.
Pediatric fluoroscopic settings that allow the radiologist and technologist to lower the radiation dose based on the size of the patient.
Last image save function: a feature that allows the radiologist to capture an image without additional radiation.
Pulsed Fluoroscopy: a feature that decreases the amount of radiation by administering the x-rays in a pulsed, rather than constant, fashion.
Questions about your upcoming procedure? Contact your primary physician or call the Radiology front desk at 812-450-3471.