Digital fluoroscopy is a special kind of X-ray that produces video imaging of the internal organs in motion. Is may be used to observe the functioning of a particular organ or an entire body system for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Before a patient undergoes a fluoroscopic examination, a contrast material is administered either orally, intravenously or by enema, in order to highlight the area of the body being X-rayed.
Reasons for Digital Fluoroscopy
There are many reasons for a fluoroscopic procedure, both alone as a diagnostic tool and in combination with other therapeutic interventions. Investigations of many parts of the body are aided by fluoroscopy since the procedure enables physicians to perceive body systems in motion and to detect foreign objects or abnormalities which may be interfering with normal functioning. Digital fluoroscopy is used for many purposes including:
- Barium X-rays of the lower intestinal tract
- Arthrographic examination of the joints
- Lumbar puncture or vertebroplasty
- Catheter placement
- Intravenous pyelogram
- Orthopedic examination
The Digital Fluoroscopy Procedure
Most fluoroscopic exams take place as the patient lies on a table. The X-ray machine, called the fluoro tower, moves across the patient and the patient may be asked to assume different positions so the images projected on the monitor will clearly show the desired areas. Digital fluoroscopy, an improvement over conventional fluoroscopy, sends the X-ray images to a monitor where the radiologist can manipulate the data by zooming in and out and by rotating the images. Such technological advances require fewer images to be taken, reducing the length of the procedure.
Risks of Digital Fluoroscopy
While fluoroscopy is generally a safe procedure, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should inform their doctor beforehand, as a different imaging exam may be safer for those situations. Since the biggest risk of fluoroscopy is radiation exposure, the digital procedure, during which the length of the process is abbreviated, is safer than previously used fluoroscopic methods.