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What are the differences between radiography and fluoroscopy?

Oct. 25, 2021

Radiography or x-ray and fluoroscopy procedures seem similar. Radiography uses gamma rays to develop a static image of the internal structures of the body. Fluoroscopy, however, obtains a moving image of the interior of the body. We can compare x-ray to a black and white photograph and fluoroscopy to a black and white animation.


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Radiography

Radiography, also known as digital x-ray, produces a two-dimensional image of the inside of the body. During radiography, a beam of X-rays passes through the body. A portion of the X-rays are absorbed or scattered by the internal structures, and the remaining X-ray pattern is transmitted to a detector so that the image can be recorded for later evaluation. Modern radiographs are usually computerized images. x-rays are often used to study bone and soft tissue. The search for community-acquired pneumonia and congestive heart failure is the most advanced technique.

 

Fluoroscopy

When an x-ray beam is used with a video screen, the technique is called fluoroscopy. Also known as motion X-rays, it produces images of the body's functioning organs in motion. The X-rays travel through the body and are picked up by an image intensifier. The image intensifier converts the X-rays into a moving image visible on the monitor. Fluoroscopy is used as a diagnostic tool and to guide instruments through the body for certain medical procedures.

 

The fluoroscope allows the observer to look inside the body as it moves and operates. Doctors find this helpful when performing procedures such as:

▶ Inserting catheters in various blood vessels - these procedures are difficult to perform without being able to see where the needle is moving. Fluoroscopy helps to place the catheter correctly and accurately.

▶ Inserting devices into blood vessels - These devices are called stents, and they help allow blood to flow more freely when a blood vessel narrows or becomes blocked in some way.

▶ Performing an angiogram - This procedure allows the doctor to see what is happening, or more appropriately, what is wrong inside the body's blood vessels.

Hysterosalpingogram or HSG: It uses fluoroscopy to check the patency of the uterus and fallopian tubes in women who are having difficulty conceiving. It can highlight the presence and severity of adhesions, fibroids or tumor masses. The contrast is administered through a catheter.

Myelogram: Myelogram is a fluoroscopic study of the spine. It helps the doctor evaluate changes or abnormalities in the spinal cord, subarachnoid space, or intervertebral discs and other structures.

▶ Enemas or x-rays for gastrointestinal purposes - These tests are called barium x-rays, and they help the doctor look at the gastrointestinal tract to diagnose problems.

▶ During orthopedic surgery - When orthopedic surgeons need to replace a joint or repair a fracture, they often do so with the help of a fluoroscope.

 

What is the difference between X-rays and fluoroscopy?

▶ X-rays are still images. They provide a still image of the inside of the body. Fluoroscopic imaging provides a real-time "video" format image that will show the movement of the body or internal instruments.

▶ Fluoroscopy using contrast media can highlight the inner layers of the tubular organs of the body. These studies can help us study ulcers, localized stenoses in specific areas, etc.

▶ Theoretically, the radiation-related risks of X-rays are less than those of fluoroscopy. Because fluoroscopy requires continuous X-rays, the exposure time is longer.

 

How do I know which imaging scan is right for me?

Your doctor will make a recommendation based on your specific situation. If you have any concerns about the risks associated with the process of acquiring the images themselves or the logistics of using these techniques, please consult your physician. They should be well prepared to mitigate any difficulties you may experience with x-rays or fluoroscopy.