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Fluoroscopy 101: What it is and Why Your Doctor May Use One to Help Treat You

You heard your upcoming procedure will involve fluoroscopy — what exactly does that mean? Don’t panic. Fluoroscopy may sound like a science experiment, but it’s a safe, minimally invasive imaging test used nationwide in doctor’s offices. 

Dr. Raul Lopez at the West Texas Pain Institute has years of experience performing fluoroscopy, and now he’s here with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

What is fluoroscopy?

Simply put, fluoroscopy is a type of imaging test that allows us to see detailed images of the inside of your body. Unlike a traditional X-ray, which produces static snapshots of your body’s structures, fluoroscopy provides “moving” real-time images of small and large regions of your body’s systems. 

How does fluoroscopy work?

We take images of your body with a fluoroscope, which consists of a fluorescent screen and an X-ray beam that passes through your body to create movie-like images on our monitor. We often use a special dye to further illuminate the structures inside your body. 

When would I need a fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy operates as both a diagnostic tool and a visual guidance instrument during certain surgical procedures. It’s appropriate any time a medical professional needs to see what’s happening inside your body without using invasive procedures. Some of the most common situations you might need a fluoroscopy include:

At West Texas Pain Institute, we use fluoroscopy during musculoskeletal procedures, including epidural injections, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulator placement, kyphoplasty, and vertebroplasty

What can I expect during a fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy fits seamlessly into our routine procedures. You recline or lie comfortably in an exam chair or table when you arrive. 

If we’re using the contrast dye with your fluoroscopy, we either have you swallow it or administer it via an intravenous (IV) line. Then, we guide you to an X-ray table to begin taking footage of the treatment area. At this point of the process, you need to lie as still as possible to get the clearest images possible. 

The images help us with the preparation phases of your procedure, allowing us to guide needles and other devices to the exact location. 

Rest assured that we carefully prepare, clean, and numb the treatment site to keep you calm and comfortable. Dr. Lopez and our team walk you through each step of the process and keep you informed at every stage. 

Do I have to prepare for a fluoroscopy?

You have to do very little before your fluoroscopy and the following procedure. During your initial consultation, make sure you tell us about any allergies you have, medications you’re taking, and whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. 

On the day of your procedure, arrive wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and ensure you have a friend or family member lined up to drive you home. 

If you still have questions about your upcoming procedure, don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions and concerns or make an appointment at our El Paso, Texas, office today.

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