What are X-Ray studies?
X-ray (or radiography) is the most commonly performed diagnostic imaging examination. X-rays are a form of energy that pass through the body and strike a film to create an image of your body. X-rays are safe when properly used under the supervision of a trained and certified physician.
X-rays are most commonly used to diagnose bone fractures and conditions of the chest and abdomen.
What should I expect?
X-ray is a fast and painless procedure. The part of your body that is going to be x-rayed is positioned by the radiology technologist in several different orientations so the radiologist has different views. Some studies will require you to hold your breath to prevent blurring. Your technologist will instruct you when to hold your breath and then again breathe. Most exams are performed in a matter of moments, and you can return to your normal activities when they are complete.
How should I prepare?
For general x-ray imaging studies, no particular pre-examination preparation is required. Before the study, the radiology technologist may ask you to remove jewelry or change into an exam gown so your study is free of buckles, zippers, and other metal that might block the x-rays.
What are fluoroscopic examinations?
Fluoroscopic examinations are imaging studies that use a low-dose x-ray machine to obtain real-time and still images, most commonly as part of gastrointestinal tract examinations, such as an upper gastrointestinal series or barium enema. Fluoroscopy can also be used to visualize other parts of the body such as the urinary tract and the spine.
What is a barium enema?
A barium enema is a fluoroscopic examination of the large intestine (colon) in which a liquid contrast material such as barium or water-soluble iodinated contrast is used to better visualize the colon. Common reasons to obtain a barium enema are to evaluate for inflammation (colitis), benign tumors (such as polyps), cancer, and other intestinal illnesses.
How is a barium enema performed?
You will be positioned on the fluoroscopy table, and an x-ray will be taken to confirm the bowel is clean. The radiologist or technologist will the insert a small tube in to the rectum and begin to administer the contrast into the colon, advancing the solution by gravity. Air may also be injected through the tube to expand the colon so that its walls are visualized. Next, a series of x-ray images is taken.
During the examination, you will feel the need to move your bowel, minor pressure, and even some cramping. Most people easily tolerate the discomfort. You may be repositioned frequently during the examination so that imaging can be obtained at several different angles.
Following you will be able to resume normal diet and activities.
What is an upper gastrointestinal series (upper GI)?
Upper gastrointestinal tract series fluoroscopic examination (“upper GI”) is an x-ray study of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, and part of the small bowel using an orally ingested barium solution. (An esophogram is evaluation of the esophagus only. A barium swallow study evaluates the pharynx and swallow mechanism using real-time video fluoroscopy). Reasons to obtain an upper GI include evaluation for ulcers, inflammation, tumors and polyps, hernias, blockages, and other illnesses of the gastrointestinal system.
How is an upper GI performed?
You may be asked to ingest effervescent crystals (similar to Alka-Seltzer) to cause mild distention of the upper gastrointestinal tract. You will drink barium solutions, and the radiologist will then observe the barium pass through the gastrointestinal tract in real time as well as obtain still x-ray images. You will be positioned in several different positions so that the anatomy is viewed from different angles. You will be asked to hold still and occasionally to hold your breath to reduce the possibility of blurring the images.
During the examination, you may feel like you have to burp and may feel bloated.
The examination is usually completed within 20-30 minutes.
After the examination, you may return to normal diet and activities.