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Fluoroscopy is a type of X-ray imaging. It allows physicians to view real-time (movie-like) images of your internal structures. Because fluoroscopy involves the use of X-rays, ionizing radiation, all fluoroscopic procedures pose some health risks. If you are pregnant, you should discuss these risks with your physician before having this procedure.

X-Ray Dyes

Fluoroscopy procedures require various types of X-ray dyes, the choice of which depends upon the reason for the procedure. These dyes cause a selected part of the body to stand out from surrounding tissue in a scan. Some are thin like water, some thick like a milkshake, others carbonated like a soda, and still others are solid like a pill. Types of dyes used include:  

  • Barium sulfate, a white-chalky substance
  • Water-soluble agents
  • Omnipaque (iohexol) 
  • Hypaque (diatrizoic acid)

None of these dyes, or contrast agents, remain in your body on any kind of permanent basis.

Fluoroscopy Injections for Musculoskeletal Pain

Fluoroscopy allows us to see images of your internal structures in real time. For muscle, bone, and joint pain, fluoroscopy-guided injections show the specific area of pain we need to target. Radiologist Nicholas Nacey, MD, discusses the benefits of fluoroscopy-guided injections. View fluoroscopy transcript.

Types of Fluoroscopy

Musculoskeletal Fluoroscopy

What the procedure does: Allows for exact injections that treat chronic or acute pain

Procedure length: 5-10 minutes

Barium Swallow

What the scan evaluates: Your esophagus; a "modified" swallow looks at your swallowing function  

The scan involves: Drinking x-ray dye while x-ray images are being taken of your throat and chest. You will be asked to move into different positions to take these x-ray images. You may be asked to swallow different forms of x-ray dye.  

Prep: Do not eat, drink, chew or smoke anything after midnight the night before

Procedure length: 30 minutes

Fluoroscopic Enteroclysis 

What the scan does: Evaluates your small intestine

The scan involves: Having a small tube placed into your nose and through your esophagus and stomach into your small intestine

Procedure length: 2-4 hours

Afterwards: You feel full or bloated and cramping may occur

Fluoroscopic Defecography

What the scan evaluates: Your rectum

The scan involves: A small tube inserted 1-2 inches into your rectum

Prep: Bowel cleansing

Procedure length: 30-60 minutes

Fluoroscopic Small Bowel Follow Through

The scan evaluates: Your small intestine

The scan involves: X-ray images will be taken of your abdomen until the x-ray dye travels all the way through your small intestine

Prep: Do not eat, drink, chew or smoke anything after midnight the night before your scheduled procedure

Procedure length: 2-4 hours

Afterward: You may feel full or bloated and cramping may occur

Fluoroscopic IVP (Intravenous Pyelogram)

The scan evaluates: Your urinary tract

The scan involves: X-ray dye injected into a vein in your arm or hand; images taken of your kidneys, ureters and bladder as they fill with the x-ray dye

Procedure length: 60 minutes

Prep: Bowel cleansing preparation starting no later than 12 noon on the day before 

A Fluoroscopic VCUG (voiding cystourethrogram)

The scan evaluates: Your bladder and lower urinary tract

The scan involves: A small tube inserted into your bladder

Procedure length: 30-60 minutes

Fluoroscopic HSG (hysterosalpingogram) 

The scan evaluates: Your uterus and fallopian tubes 

The scan involves: A speculum placed into your vagina so that a small tube can be placed into your uterus. Once the tube is in place, the speculum will be removed. X-ray dye will be injected through that tube and fill your uterus and fallopian tubes. This may cause some cramping.

Procedure length: 30 minutes