Fluoroscopy (or fluoroscopy) is a radiological imaging technique that uses a fluoroscope to obtain images of the inside of the body in real time and in motion . Basically, a fluoroscope consists of an emitter of electromagnetic radiation, usually X-rays and sometimes gamma rays, and a fluorescent screen. Between the two, the patient is placed so that the radiation falls on the area of ​​the body to be studied.

Some structures inside the body allow X-rays to pass through while others do not. Due to this characteristic, an X-ray pattern will emerge from the other side of the body that reflects its interior and whose image can be reproduced when these rays hit the fluorescent screen.

In a similar way to how a conventional television works , fluoroscopes create 30 images per second and when viewed continuously they give the sensation of movement in real time. The fluoroscope is usually coupled to a video recording system that allows viewing inside the body on a television and to a digital storage system to later view the video for detailed study.

What is it for?

Fluoroscopy is used in medicine mainly for diagnostic purposes but also in some treatment procedures. As a diagnostic test, fluoroscopy allows physicians to study internal organs in real time for signs and symptoms of disease . As a treatment, fluoroscopy is used to guide surgical interventions that, if not for this technique, would be much more invasive .

Among the most frequent applications we can mention:

In diagnosis

  • Digestive system : swallowing studies, esophagograms, intestinal transit, laparoscopies, barium enema, transcutaneous liver biopsies, enteroclysis, etc.
  • Urology : cystography, diagnostic percutaneous nephrostomy, percutaneous excretory urogram
  • Gynecology : hysterosalpingography
  • Neurology : myelograms
  • Cardiology : angiograms of vessels of the lower extremities, heart and brain; intracardiac electrophysiological study (EPS), etc.
  • Traumatology : arthrography, post-surgical control, etc.

In treatment

  • Stent placement : esophageal, biliary, urethral stents, intravascular stents, etc.
  • Infiltrations : especially common in intra and periarticular drug infiltration (anesthetics, corticosteroids, contrast solutions, etc).
  • Dilation of vascular, digestive or urological stenosis .
  • Guided surgery : biopsies, vertebroplasties, tumor removal (especially in delicate locations), kidney surgery, nephrostomy, placement of pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators, angioplasties, urological surgery (especially in retrograde pyelography)

It must be taken into account that the exact fluoroscopy procedure can vary considerably depending on the patient’s condition, the structures to be examined, the task to be performed (visualization or intervention) and the protocols established for each region of the body. For example, some fluoroscopy-guided interventions may require the use of anesthesia and immobilization of the patient.