Fluoroscopy involves the display of a continuous X-ray image on a monitor allowing the observation of medical procedures or the passing of a contrast agent through the body, according to the Food and Drug Administration. If the procedure requires fluoroscopy for an extended period, as with complex procedures, the patient may receive a high dose of radiation. The procedure can result in skin burns or increase the chances of radiation-induced cancers.
Procedures that sometimes require fluoroscopy include the insertion of a catheter, monitoring orthopedic surgery, barium X-rays or enemas, and angiograms, indicates the FDA. The amount of radiation a patient receives depends on the procedure he undergoes; however, the fluoroscopic procedure itself offers a painless method of observing what happens under the skin and other tissue without requiring open surgery. If the patient requires surgery, the X-ray procedure is often useful in planning.
The benefits of a clinically appropriate X-ray exam, including fluoroscopy generally outweigh any risks advises the FDA. Care providers should take precautions to minimize the patient's exposure. Younger patients are often more susceptible to the harmful effects of exposure than older ones, and caregivers should use special precautions with pregnant women. Patients may want to keep track of their own imaging procedures and discuss them with the referring physician before agreeing to any further tests.