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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.

Types of Fluoroscopy

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