Everything You Need to Know About the Fluoroscopy Procedure

Studying body structures that are moving around, just like an X-ray ‘movie’ is known as fluoroscopy. The body part that is being examined will have an X-ray beam pass through it continuously, as the beam will be transmitted onto a monitor to show the body part along with its range of motion. Physicians can use fluoroscopy like an imaging tool to view various body systems, such as the reproductive, respiratory, urinary, digestive, and skeletal systems.

Fluoroscopy can also be performed for evaluating different areas in the body, like the joints, bones, and muscles, and solid organs like the kidneys, heart, and lung. Other procedures, which are used for diagnosing problems of the joints, bones, and muscles, include arthrography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT scan), myelography (myelogram), and X-rays.

Why Do You Need Fluoroscopy?

You can use fluoroscopy in different types of procedures and examinations, like biopsies, hysterosalpingogram, intravenous pyelogram, placing intravenous (IV) catheters, lumbar puncture, arthrography, cardiac catheterization, and barium X-rays. Fluoroscopy is also used as a diagnostic procedure and is used together with other therapeutic or diagnostic procedures.

Fluoroscopy is used in barium X-rays to help the doctor visualize how the intestine moves when barium is moving through them so the doctor can have the patient in the right position for spot imaging. Fluoroscopy is used in cardiac catheterization to allow the doctor to see how the blood flows along the coronary arteries to check for any arterial blockages.

Fluoroscopy is used in other ways, which include:

  • Locating foreign bodies 
  • Anesthetic injections that are guided by images into the spine or joints 
  • Percutaneous vertebroplasty (used for treating compression fractures of the spine or the vertebrae) Your doctor can also recommend fluoroscopy for various other reasons.

Are There Any Risks with Fluoroscopy?

It’s best to discuss risks related to your condition and the amount of radiation that will be used in the procedure with your doctor, so you know more about the procedure. You should also inform your doctor about any history with radiation exposure so that they can take appropriate measures.

  • If you’re pregnant you should inform your doctor since you could experience birth defects if you’re exposed to radiation during pregnancy. 
  • You could get an allergic reaction to the dye if there is a contrast dye being used. Patients who are sensitive to or allergic to latex, iodine, contrast media or medications should inform their doctor. Patients with kidney problems or kidney failure should also let the doctor know. 
  • The accuracy of the fluoroscopy procedure can be affected by certain conditions or factors, for instance, a barium X-ray procedure undertaken recently will interfere with exposure to the lower back or abdominal area.

There are other risks associated with your specific medical condition, and you should discuss all concerns with your doctor before the procedure. Fluoroscopy examinations that are medically appropriate must offer clinical benefits that are greater than the radiation you’ll be exposed to during the examination. Fluoroscopic examinations are instrumental in creating treatment plans and patients can take advantage of diagnostic benefits when it is used by board certified and highly trained radiologic technologists.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates all fluoroscopy machines, which must all meet the different criteria before they are considered effective and safe.

Preparing for a Fluoroscopic Exam


You should check with your doctor first if you’re pregnant before you schedule the exam. You can discuss other options with your doctor.


You’ll be asked to change into a patient gown, which will be provided, and there will be lockers available for your personal belongings. You should leave all valuables and jewelry at home and all piercings should be removed.


You’ll be given specific instructions depending on your scheduled examination.


You must inform your technologist or radiologist if you’re allergic to any medications, iodine, or contrast dyes. There are also some examinations that may include fluoroscopy as a part of the overall procedure, and these include the following:

  • Upper gastrointestinal series 
  • Small bowel series 
  • Myelogram Lumbar puncture 
  • Interventional radiology procedures 
  • Interventional neuroradiology procedures 
  • Enteroclysis 
  • Barium swallow 
  • Barium enema

During the procedure

Fluoroscopy can be performed in the hospital or on an outpatient basis, depending on the practices of the doctor and your condition. In general, the fluoroscopy procedure will follow the pattern below:

You’ll be asked to remove all jewelry or clothing, which can disrupt the exposure of the body part being examined. You’ll be given a gown to wear Depending on the type of procedure, you’ll be given a contrast substance by an intravenous (IV) line in your arm or hand, swallowing, or enema. You’ll lay down on the X-ray table, and you’ll be asked to switch different positions, hold your breath at intervals, or move a body part during the fluoroscopy. A line insertion area can be used in the elbow, groin, or another area if there needs to be a catheter insertion, like catheter placement or cardiac catheterization in another body part or joint. An X-ray machine is going to provide fluoroscopic pictures of the body part that is being treated or examined. The IV line will be injected with a contrast substance or dye to get better visuals of the structures or organs that are being studied. If you’re undergoing arthrography, fluids in your joints can be aspirated before the contrast substance is injected. You’ll then be instructed to move the joint so that the contrast substance distributes evenly in the joint. The length of the procedure will be determined by the body part that is being treated or examined and the type of procedure that is being performed. The IV line is going to be removed once the procedure is finished

Even though fluoroscopy isn’t a painful procedure, the type of procedure that is performed can tend to be painful, like accessing a vein or an artery for angiography or getting an injection into a joint. The radiologists will take all the appropriate measures to ensure your comfort in such cases, and may also include general anesthesia, conscious sedation, or local anesthesia, depending on what procedure is being performed on you.