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X-Ray and Fluoroscopy
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X-Ray and Fluoroscopy

What is an X-Ray and What is Fluoroscopy?

X-ray (radiography) is a standard diagnostic imaging technique for viewing various parts of the body that was invented more than 100 years ago. This technology is used for conventional X-rays, CAT scans and fluoroscopy. Digital Radiography (DR) replaces traditional photographic film with digital sensors to capture the image. This enables quicker image preview by the radiologist and also improves image quality through special image processing techniques that enhance the picture. Fluoroscopy is the use of X-rays to produce a moving image onto a monitor. This can be thought of as using X-rays to form a video. Fluoroscopy uses a continuous X-ray beam that is passed over the area of interest. During all three of these procedures, a very low dose of ionizing radiation is used, which is extremely safe.

Why Would I Need an X-Ray or Fluoroscopy Examination?

The oldest and most widely used diagnostic imaging tool, X-ray is used to evaluate injuries and illnesses. Due to differences in the radiation absorption of various kinds of tissue (e.g. bone muscle, fat, air, metal), tissues have different colors on the X-ray or fluoroscopy examination. Breaks in bones let radiation pass through so they appear darker in color. X-rays enable physicians to see inside the body to determine whether or not any abnormalities exist.

Fluoroscopy enables radiologists to view motion and assess the anatomy and function of different parts of the body. Fluoroscopy is frequently used to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, the first section of the small intestine called the 'duodenum,' and the colon. The fluoroscopy procedures that are commonly used to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract include esophagram, upper GI series (barium swallow) and barium enema. These tests assist physicians in diagnosing problems of the digestive tract (e.g. ulcers, tumors, hiatal hernias, reflux, scarring, inflammation and blockages). Fluoroscopy is also used to evaluate the kidney function in angiography and venography procedures (placement of tubes in an artery or vein), pain management procedures (e.g. nerve root blocks) and some imaging guided biopsies.

What to Expect

Patients are asked to hold still for X-ray examinations, while the machine briefly sends electromagnetic waves (radiation) through the body to create the internal structure image. Patients are often X-rayed from several angles. This is a simple procedure that typically takes less than five minutes.

Fluoroscopy is typically performed on an outpatient basis and appointments are frequently scheduled in the morning to minimize the patient's fasting time. For upper GI and small bowl series tests, patients may not eat or drink anything after midnight before the test. Patients are asked to remove any clothing or jewelry that may interfere with the exposure of the body area being examined.

For all X-ray procedures, you should notify the technologist if you are pregnant or if there is any chance you could be pregnant.

Upper GI Series

This test examines the "Upper GI Tract," which is the esophagus, stomach and the beginning of the small bowel. You should not eat or drink anything or chew gum after midnight before your test is performed. You will be asked to drink a chalky white liquid called barium and to swallow granules to create air, similar to Alka Seltzer. You will be asked to step onto the X-ray machine and to turn in different direction and to hold your breadth while X-ray films are obtained. After the exam is completed, you should drink a large amount of water that day and night.

Barium Enema

This test examines the large bowel (colon). On the day before and the morning of the exam, you will be asked to take a preparation, which will clean out the colon. You will receive detailed instructions for this. For the exam, a tube is placed in the rectum and a liquid called barium is introduced along with air. You will be asked to move in different positions and to hold your breadth while X0ray films are obtained. You may experience some mild crampy abdominal pain during this procedure. After the exam is over, you may resume normal activities and eat a normal diet. Specific instructions will follow your examination or procedure.

X-ray and fluoroscopy examinations are offered at the following Montefiore sites:

  • Montefiore Advanced Imaging, Medical Arts Pavillion
  • Montefiore Advanced Imaging, Montefiore Medical Park
  • Montefiore Advanced Imaging, Breast Imaging Center
  • Montefiore Medical Group sites
  • Moses Division
  • Weiler Division