Fluoroscopy is an x-ray procedure that produces an x-ray movie making it possible to see internal organs in real-time. The x-rays are captured by an image intensifier and converted into light. The light is then captured by a TV camera and displayed on a video monitor. Fluoroscopy is used in many types of examinations and procedures, such as barium X-rays, cardiac catheterization, arthrography (visualization of a joint or joints), lumbar puncture, placement of intravenous (IV) catheters (hollow tubes inserted into veins or arteries), intravenous pyelogram, hysterosalpingogram, and biopsies. Fluoroscopy may be used alone as a diagnostic procedure, or may be used in conjunction with other diagnostic or therapeutic media or procedures.
A barium enema is an X-ray exam used to check for colon cancer, polyps, diverticula or other abnormalities in the large intestine (colon). The procedure is also called a colon X-ray.
Liquid containing a metallic substance (barium) is injected into your rectum through a small tube. The liquid coats the lining of the colon. Normally soft tissues produce poor images on an x-ray, but with the barium coating the lining of the colon, a relatively clear silhouette of the colon can be achieved.
During a barium enema exam, air may be pumped into the colon. The air expands the colon and improves the quality of images. This is called an air-contrast (double-contrast) barium enema.
An upper gastrointestinal exam, or upper GI series, uses fluoroscopy and an orally ingested barium-based contrast material to produce images of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. It is safe, noninvasive, and can help accurately diagnose pain, acid reflux, blood in the stool and other symptoms.
Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see the internal organs in action. When the upper GI tract is coated with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
An x-ray examination that evaluates only the pharynx and esophagus is called a barium swallow.
In addition to drinking barium, some patients are also given baking-soda crystals (similar to Alka-Seltzer) to further improve the images. This procedure is called an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI.