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Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging procedure that uses continuous X-ray to create a movie. During a fluoroscopy procedure the continuous X-ray movie is recorded to help see inside your child’s body.
Fluoroscopy is used for a wide variety of examinations and procedures to diagnose and treat patients.
At RCH the most common examinations are:
Most fluoroscopy procedures are performed as an outpatient with your child awake. It is used to diagnose pathology and during treatment procedures.
For some ideas on how to prepare your child for the procedure, and tips on distracting them and helping them stay calm during the procedure, see our fact sheetReducing your child's discomfort during procedures
It may be helpful to your child if the procedure is explained to them before they come in for their important. Explain that:
Most children can watch a movie while having their procedure on a smartphone or tablet, and you are encouraged to bring your child’s favourite toy or a book to help keep your child occupied and distracted during the study.
Specialist staff from
Child Life Therapy may also be of benefit for your child. The Child Life Therapist engages families in imaging-specific education and medical play, as well as providing distraction and support during procedures. Appointments for Child Life Therapist support can be made in advance via Medical Imaging or your referring doctor.
Fasting times are based on the examination your child is having. Below is a list of procedures and the fasting time required:
Barium swallow or meal – 4 hours (3 hours for breastfeeding infants)
Barium enema – No fasting required
Micturating cysto-urethrogram (MCU) – No fasting required
Naso-gastric tube (NGT)/naso-jejunal tube (NJT) insertion – No fasting required
Speech pathology – No fasting required
A fluoroscopy procedure can take anywhere between 10-45minutes depending on the type of examination your child is having. In some cases there may be multiple images required over a longer period of time, and you may have to wait between these images.
In the fluoroscopy room will be:
You are encouraged to bring your child’s favorite toy, book or electronic device to the appointment.
When you arrive, you and your child will be invited into the fluoroscopy room, where the radiographer or radiologist will explain the procedure to you. Your child will then be changed into a hospital gown and positioned on the examination table for their procedure. Speech pathology studies are performed sitting up in a chair or booster.
The fluoroscopy camera will move around your child. Although it may come quite close, it will not touch them. Images will be taken from different angles and your child may be placed into different positions.
Fluoroscopy involves the use of contrast - a radiolucent dye that is able to be seen on X-ray. This allows the relevant structure inside the body to be seen clearly on the fluoroscopy screen. Contrast may be administered to your child depending on the procedure required:
Your child will be asked to drink contrast. While they are swallowing the drink, the radiologist will use the fluoroscopy camera to view this in the oesophagus and into the stomach. This may be repeated multiple times. This contrast will then be imaged to follow it through the stomach and into the small intestines.
A small tube will be placed into your child’s bottom. Contrast will be administered via the tube, and the radiologist will use the fluoroscopy camera to view this contrast as it travels through the rectum and into the large colon.
A small tube is placed into your child’s bladder via the urethra. Contrast will be administered via the tube, and the radiologist will use the fluoroscopy camera to view this contrast in the bladder as it fills and then empties. Your child will be asked to empty their bladder into a bottle or pan during this procedure.
It is not uncommon for the radiologist to inform you of the results on the day of the procedure. A final report will be prepared by the radiologist and sent to the referring doctor. The report is usually available within a few days but can be received earlier if required. If you have any questions about why your child needs a fluoroscopy procedure, or questions about the results of your fluoroscopy procedure, please speak to your doctor.
My child is anxious about medical procedures and I am worried they won't stay still for the fluoroscopy procedure. How can I help?
To get some ideas of how to talk to your child about the procedure before you come to hospital, see our fact
sheet. Also consider showing your child our
‘Be Positive’ videos of children having procedures at The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH). Seeing the videos may help them by knowing what to expect. You can also download our
Okee in Medical Imaging app, which includes games and information especially designed to help children feel more comfortable about having medical imaging at RCH.
Specialist staff from
Child Life Therapy may also be of benefit for your child – appointments can be made in advance via Medical Imaging or your referring doctor.
Will I need to wear a lead apron during fluoroscopy?
Parents or carers that remain with their child during the fluoroscopy procedure will be required to wear a lead apron.
Is fluoroscopy procedures safe for children?
All medical imaging procedures at RCH have been justified by a radiologist or Specialist before the exam is performed. All imaging procedures are optimised – each study is performed with the aim to provide the highest quality imaging with the lowest radiation dose to each child.
For more information on radiation, please see the Australian Government fact sheet:
Ionising Radiation and Health, or speak to the radiologist or radiographer.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Medical Imaging department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed January 2019.
This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.
Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.