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What is fluoroscopic imaging?

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Quick Answer

Fluoroscopy is a continuous X-ray imaging procedure, with the images appearing on a monitor, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Physicians use fluoroscopy to diagnose diseases or to guide their movements for certain procedures, such as cardiac catheterization.

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Full Answer

The X-ray beam passes continuously through the body and captures movements and various body parts, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. This allows the physician to see what is happening in different systems, including the skeletal, muscular, urinary and respiratory systems.

Fluoroscopy allows flexibility in the procedure the doctor performs, and doctors often use fluoroscopy in conjunction with other procedures, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Physicians use fluoroscopy with a barium X-ray or enema. They may use the procedure to place a stent or as an aid during orthopedic surgery. The patient may be awake or sedated during fluoroscopy, depending on the other procedures performed at the time.

The exposure to the continuous X-rays present a slight risk to patients, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The specific procedure for which fluoroscopy is used affects the amount of radiation exposure. Longer procedures, such as placing devices in the body, mean greater exposure, which may increase the risk of radiation-induced injury shortly after the procedure and radiation-induced cancer in the future. Even with a long flouroscopy procedure, the risk of side effects is low.

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