Fluoroscopy enables radiologists to assess many body systems including bones, joints, lungs, the digestive and urinary tracts, and the reproductive system.
Contrast media, such as barium sulphate and iodine-based dyes, are used to fill the area of interest, or outline soft tissue organs for more detailed visualisation and improved assessment.
If a patient is pregnant or suspects that she might be pregnant, please weigh up the risks and benefits to the patient and the developing child. Could ultrasound be used to assess the problem? Radiation exposure should be kept to a minimum during pregnancy, to reduce harm to the fetus.
A small percentage of people are allergic to contrast media. Please add the relevant information to the clinical history section of the request form, if your patient:
- Suffers from asthma
- Has an allergy to seafood or shellfish
- Is allergic to iodine, or
- Has had a previous reaction to the contrast dye used for x-ray.
During fluoroscopic examination
While fluoroscopy itself is not painful, the particular procedure being performed might cause the patient some discomfort. For example the patient might experience some discomfort if an injection is given, but the radiographer or radiologist will minimise any pain, which could include giving a local anaesthetic.
Our staff will ensure all patients receive the lowest radiation dose possible to gain the high-quality images needed for diagnosis.
After fluoroscopic examination
The type of care needed after the procedure will depend on the type of fluoroscopy, but for most studies the patient can return to normal activities straight away. If there is any post-procedure care or the patient needs someone to drive them home, this will be fully explained when the patient makes a booking. We will advise the patient to contact their doctor if they notice any pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site after they return home, as this could indicate an infection or reaction.
One of our radiologists will interpret the fluoroscopy findings and provide a comprehensive report. If you are a registered a referrer you can access your patients’ digital x-rays, scans and reports through our secure online archival system, or view the films we provide. For more information about registering to access patient images visit the Request Access to online images section.
If you need to review the patient on the same day as fluoroscopy, the patient can wait for the films and we will fax or email the results to you.
Arthrography – joint study
Arthrography assesses bony joints, such as the hip, shoulder, ankle or knee. Any excess joint fluid might be withdrawn with a needle before contrast media is injected. After the contrast is injected, the patient might be asked to move the joint around to evenly distribute the contrast within the joint.
Injecting contrast media and/or air into a joint space enables the radiologist to assess the cartilage, ligaments, tendons and other structures. Once the contrast has been introduced into the joint more detailed images are acquired using fluoroscopy, CT or MRI.
Barium study – gastrointestinal tract
In barium studies, fluoroscopy enables the radiologist to assess the intestine as barium passes through the region of interest. Water-soluble contrast agents such as Gastrografin are used to outline the gastrointestinal tract in cases where barium sulphate is unsatisfactory, undesirable or contraindicated, such as an obstruction or potential bowel leak.
- Barium swallow – for swallowing disorders
- Barium meal – for the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum
- Small bowel study – anatomy and movement of the small bowel
- Barium enema – to outline the large bowel in combination with air.
Cystography – bladder
Contrast media is introduced through a small catheter to outline the bladder. A micturating cystourethrogram or MCU is used to assess the urinary tract in children who are suspected of having urinary reflux, which means urine in the bladder goes back up the ureters in the wrong direction. Urinary reflux (vesicoureteric reflux) in children can damage the kidneys and cause permanent scarring.
Dacryocystography – tear ducts
Dacryocystography is used to assess whether there is blockage of the tear ducts. A small dose of x-ray contrast media is injected into the symptomatic tear duct to show the lacrimal sac and the nasolacrimal duct.
Hysterosalpingography or HSG – female reproductive system
Hysterosalpingography is used to assess the female reproductive system in women with infertility. Contrast medium is injected into the uterus through a small catheter. The passage of contrast through the uterus and fallopian tubes is followed using fluoroscopy. The test will show the shape of the intrauterine cavity, the width of the fallopian tubes and any blockage or flow restriction. There might be some discomfort as the fluid passes through the tubes. Sometimes, the passage of the fluid through the tubes is enough to clear debris and allow a pregnancy to occur.
Intravenous Pyelogram or IVP – urinary tract
An IVP is used to assess the urinary tract. An injection of contrast media or dye is given through a vein, usually at the elbow. Because dye is opaque on x-rays, when the kidneys excrete the dye the kidneys, ureters and bladder become visible on x-rays and fluoroscopy. A series of images, taken at set intervals after the injection, demonstrates the passage of the contrast media through the urinary tract.
Sialography – salivary glands
Sialography is used to assess any of the six facial salivary glands. When we eat the salivary glands release saliva, which contain enzymes that start the digestive process. If a salivary gland becomes painful or swollen, one of the ducts that delivers saliva to the mouth might be blocked. After injecting a small dose of x-ray contrast into a salivary gland duct, real-time fluoroscopy will show any blockages, and possibly the cause of the blockage.