Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique in which the doctor uses a medical device called a fluoroscope to gather real-time moving images of the internal structures of the patients. The fluoroscope is a special medical instrument that produces viewable X-rays without taking or developing X-ray photographs.
With this procedure, the doctor evaluates and diagnoses organs such as joints, muscles, bones, heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. The doctor can also use this procedure to guide treatments such as implants, injections, orthopaedic surgery, etc.
This technique offers several benefits as compared to invasive procedures as it requires a tiny incision, reducing the risk of infection and recovery time.
Who Performs Fluoroscopy?
Any healthcare professional who is specially trained and skilled in using a fluoroscope can perform this procedure. Medical professionals who commonly perform fluoroscopy may include the following:-
- Vascular surgeons
- Orthopaedic surgeons
- Pain management specialists
- Obstetrician-gynaecologists (OB-GYNs)
Why Is Fluoroscopy Done?
The fluoroscopy is done to diagnose disease and to guide invasive treatments. Following are the most common procedures that use fluoroscopy:-
- Barium swallow
- Lower GI series
- Upper GI series
- Intravenous pyelogram
- Cardiac catheterisation
- Orthopaedic procedures
- Voiding cystourethrogram
The doctor can use fluoroscopy alone as a diagnostic procedure or in conjunction with other diagnoses or procedures depending on the need of the patient.
Preparation For Fluoroscopy
The preparation depends on the type and need of the fluoroscopy procedure. Some of the procedures don’t require any special preparations. However, for others, your doctor may advise you to avoid certain medications, fast (not eat or drink anything except water) a few hours before the procedure.
Moreover, in any case, your doctor tells you what you need to do before the procedure. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, please discuss this with your doctor before scheduling for fluoroscopy. Since this procedure can be harmful to an unborn baby, the doctor may discuss other options with you.
Also, do inform the doctor if you are allergic or sensitive to medications, contrast dyes or iodine. Apart from all the above, talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
During The Procedure
Depending on the type of fluoroscopy, this procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis or you may require hospitalisation. During some procedures, you can be awake. However, for others which mainly involve surgery, the doctor gives you general anaesthesia so that you are asleep during the entire procedure.
The doctor asks you to lie on the table and depending on the type of the procedure, the doctor asks you to get in different positions, move specific body parts or hold your breath at intervals during fluoroscopy.
Usually, fluoroscopy is not a painful procedure, but particular procedures such as the injection into a joint or the accessing of an artery or vein for angiography may be painful. In such a case, the doctor takes all the possible measures to ensure that the entire process is comfortable for the patients.
After The Procedure
Again, the type of care required after fluoroscopy depends on the type of procedure that is performed. Knowing what to expect after undergoing fluoroscopy can help you resume your daily routine safely as soon as possible.
How you feel after the procedure varies depending on your diagnosis and the type of procedure. You can talk to your doctor about what to expect after the procedure and when you can return to your normal activities.
If you drink contrast or have a contrast enema, you may have loose bowel movements containing contrast for a day or two post-procedure. Inform your doctor if you notice anything unusual or if stool lasts longer or you have pain or discomfort.
Whether fluoroscopy is performed on an outpatient basis or you require hospitalisation depends on the type of procedure you undergo. If you undergo fluoroscopy during hospitalisation, you are likely to stay at the hospital for further evaluation and treatment. You may go home the same day after a few hours if you are not seriously ill.
Like any other procedure, fluoroscopy also poses some possible risks and complications that may include the following:-
- The radiation used in this procedure increases the possibility of developing cancer in later life.
- The radiation used during the procedure could also cause skin reddening and hair loss.
- Contrast dye can produce an allergic reaction in some people.
- Fluoroscopy is not painful, but other procedures that are performed with it can be painful, such as injection into the joint.