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Fluoroscopy is an imaging modality that uses a special X-ray machine which enables a radiologist to visualize the anatomy and function of an organ in real-time. In essence, it creates an X-ray "movie" of many body systems, including the digestive, urinary, skeletal, respiratory, and reproductive systems.


Fluoroscopy is a relatively fast and safe exam in which no sedation is needed. It can often replace more invasive endoscopic procedures. Patients can return to their usual activities or go home after the procedure without the aid of another person.

At Larchmont Medical Imaging, patient safety is top priority—and that includes helping patients and their primary care clinicians manage their exposure to medical radiation for imaging exams. Click here to learn more.


The most common use of fluoroscopy today is to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the rectum. The exams include barium swallows, upper GI series, small bowel follow-through series and barium exams. These exams can be helpful in assessing symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. It can aid in diagnosing and managing conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux, hiatal hernias, gastric ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn's disease) and cancer.

Fluoroscopy is often beneficial in the assessment of joints, including the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. The two types of fluoroscopic guided arthrograms performed depend on what is injected under fluoroscopy into the joint: either gadolinium (MRI contrast) used in conjunction with an MRI or steroids used to alleviate joint pain.

Fluoroscopy can also be used to assess the urinary system with exams including intravenous pyelograms (IVPs) and cystograms. It is also used in conjunction with OB-GYN physicians during hysterosalpingograms.


The fluoroscopy preparation varies depending on exam.

Barium Swallow, Upper GI Series, Small Bowel Follow-Through Series

Day before exam:

    • Eat a normal dinner.
    • No solid food after 10:00 p.m.
    • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.

Barium Enema

If you are diabetic & require insulin, contact your physician before starting the prep

Purchase the following from your pharmacy:

    • One 10-ounce. bottle of Magnesium Citrate
    • Two Dulcolax tablets
    • One Dulcolax suppository

Day before exam:

    • In the a.m., start clear liquid diet and continue throughout the day (Acceptable items include:  clear fruit juice without pulp (apple, white grape, lemonade, white cranberry), clear broth, tea or coffee without milk/creamer, any of the following that ARE NOT RED OR PURPLE-Gatorade, plain Jello, soft drinks (sprite, ginger ale) and ice popsicles.
    • 5:00 p.m. PM – Drink one large glass (8 oz.) of water.
    • 6:00 p.m. – Drink one 10 oz. bottle of Magnesium Citrate.
    • 7:00 p.m. – Drink one large glass (8 oz.) of water.
    • 8:00 p.m. – Take two Dulcolax tablets.
    • 9:00 p.m. – Drink one large glass (8 oz.) of water.
    • 10:00 p.m. – Drink one large glass (8 oz.) of water.
    • Bedtime – Drink one large glass (8 oz.) of water.

Day of the exam:

    • NO breakfast. You may drink clear liquids.

Two hours before the exam:

    • Drink one large glass (8 oz.) of water.
    • Insert one Dulcolax suppository into rectum.
    • Wait 10-15 minutes before going to the bathroom.

Resume normal diet after the exam.


Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

Purchase the following from your pharmacy:

    • One Dulcolax tablets

Day before exam:

    • 4:00 PM – Take two Dulcolax tablets with one large glass (8 oz.) of water.
    • Eat a regular dinner
    • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight

Day of the exam:

    • NO breakfast.
    • You may take daily medications with a small amount of water if absolutely necessary

Every fluoroscopic exam is different. The radiologist will explain the exam in its entirely and answer your questions before beginning the study. In general, you will be given a gown and asked to lie or stand between the X-ray machine and a fluorescent screen. During the exam, you will be given some form of contrast (oral, rectal or intravenous contrast) and you may be repositioned frequently in order for the radiologist to capture different views. The fluoroscopic images will appear on a monitor similar to a TV screen.





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