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Kids Health Info

Fluoroscopy

  • What is fluoroscopy?

    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.

    Why does my child need a fluoroscopy study?

    Fluoroscopy is used for a wide variety of examinations and procedures to diagnose and treat patients.

    At RCH the most common examinations are:

    • Barium swallow and meal
    • Barium Enema
    • Micturating cysto-urethrogram (MCU)
    • Naso-gastric tube/naso-jejunal tube insertion
    • Speech Pathology studies

    Most fluoroscopy procedures are performed as an outpatient with your child awake. It is used to diagnose pathology and during treatment procedures.

    Preparing your child for their appointment

    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 sheet Reducing 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: 

    • the procedures do not take long
    • a parent or carer is encouraged to stay with the child during the procedure.

    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

    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

    How long does it take?

    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.

    Who will be in the fluoroscopy room?

    In the fluoroscopy room will be:

    • Radiologist – The doctor that performs the procedure and prepares the report for your referring doctor
    • Radiographer – The person who takes the X-rays
    • Medical imaging nurse – A nurse who helps perform and cares for your child during their procedure
    • Child Life Therapist – Specialist staff member who engage children and 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.

    What to expect?

    Before your fluoroscopy procedure

     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.

    During your fluoroscopy procedure

    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:

    Barium Swallow and meal

    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.

    Barium enema

    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.

    Micturating cysto-urethrogram (MCU)

    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.

    After your fluoroscopy 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.

    Key points to remember

    • Fluoroscopy uses continuous X-rays to create an image
    • Fluoroscopy procedures may use contrast to image the relevant structures inside the body
    • A parent or carer is encouraged to stay with their child during their fluoroscopy procedure

    For more information

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    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

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit  www.rchfoundation.org.au.

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Disclaimer
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.