Medical Imaging: Fluoroscopy
Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that shows a continuous x-ray image on a monitor, much like an x-ray movie. It is used to diagnose or treat patients by displaying the movement of a body part or of an instrument or dye (contrast agent) through the body.
During a fluoroscopy procedure, an x-ray beam is passed through the body. The image is transmitted to a monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail.
Uses of Fluoroscopy
Fluoroscopy is used in many types of examinations and procedures. Some examples include
- Barium x-rays and enemas (to view movement through the GI tract)
- Catheter insertion (to direct the placement of a catheter during angioplasty or angiography)
- Blood flow studies (to visualize blood flow to organs)
- Orthopedic surgery (to view fractures and fracture treatments)
Risks and Benefits of Fluoroscopy
Fluoroscopy is a type of x-ray procedure, and it carries the same types of risks as other x-ray procedures. The radiation dose the patient receives varies depending on the individual procedure.
The two major risks associated with fluoroscopy are
- radiation-induced injuries to the skin and underlying tissues (“burns”), and
- the small possibility of developing a radiation-induced cancer some time later in life.
When an individual has a medical need, the benefit of fluoroscopy far exceeds the small cancer risk associated with the procedure. Even when fluoroscopy is medically necessary, it should use the lowest possible exposure for the shortest possible time.
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