Fluoroscopy Exams near Washington DC

Fluroscopy Exam Options at Radiology Imaging Associates

  • Upper GI 
  • Barium Enema 
  • Barium Swallow
  • SBFT (Small Bowel Follow Through)
  • Esophagram
  • Arthrography
  • Discography
  • Myelogram
  • Cystogram

What is Fluroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a type of x-ray procedure that captures moving images, allowing the radiologist to observe the functioning as well as the anatomy of internal organs. Common exams that use fluoroscopy include upper gastrointestinal exams (UGI), barium swallow, and barium enemas (BE). Fluoroscopy is also used by the radiologist to guide the placement of catheters or needles during various interventional procedures such as angiography, myelography and hysterosalpingography procedures. For nearly all of these exams, static or still images are also obtained to document what is seen or done at the time of the exam.

A fluoroscopy unit consists of a specialized x-ray machine that converts x-ray into an image that can be viewed on a TV type monitor. As with any X-ray, you do not feel any sensations from fluoroscopy itself.

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Barium Enema

What is a Barium Enema?

A barium enema is a diagnostic x-ray examination of the colon (the large intestine) used to check for colon cancer, polyps, diverticula or other abnormalities.

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.

How should I prepare?

For Patients Age 14 and Older:

Obtain the following from a pharmacy at least one day prior to your barium enema examination and follow the instructions below.

  • A 10 ounce bottle of magnesium citrate or  a packet to mix 10 ounces
  • 4 Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) tablets
  • 1 Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) suppository

Instructions for the day before the examination:

  1. Only clear liquids should be taken by mouth.  See list below.  Be sure to drink a sufficient amount of fluid, about 12 ounces of liquid every hour while awake.
  2. Between 3 - 5:00 p.m. drink a 10 ounce bottle of magnesium citrate.
  3. Between 7 – 8:00 p.m. take four (4) Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) tablets with at least one full glass of water.  Do not crush or chew the tablets.  Swallow the tablets whole.

Instructions for the day of the examination:

  1. Nothing should be taken by mouth, except that essential medication is allowed up to 2 hours prior to exam with 1 oz. of water.
  2. Insert the Bisacodyl suppository into the rectum the morning of the exam, two hours before the appointment time.  (Remove the foil wrap from the suppository.  Lie on side; insert suppository well up into the rectum.  Push suppository in gently as far as possible and against bowel wall.  Wait for 15 minutes before evacuating, even if the urge is strong.  Suppositories are usually effective within 15 minutes to 1 hour.  Note: If suppository is soft, put it in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 minutes.)

For all patients - Essential medication is allowed up to 2 hours prior to exam with 1 oz. of water.

For Patients Age 13 and Younger:


  • No prep is used when the study is for Hirschspung’s disease, acute abdomen conditions, or active inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Use clear liquids and light meal options, same as for adults.
0-2 years of age
  • No solid foods on day of exam. May have clear liquids until time of exam.
3-5 years of age
  • Day before exam, encourage drinking plenty of clear liquids.
  • Choose from the light meal foods below.
  • Administer 4 oz. (120cc) of magnesium citrate at 4:00 pm the day before the exam. Serve magnesium citrate chilled.
  • Administer 1 Dulcolax tablet at 6:00 pm the day before exam.
  • No solid foods after 10:00 pm the night before exam.
6-13 years of age
  • Clear liquid diet the day before exam. (Note: No milk or milk products.)
  • Throughout the day before exam, clear liquids are strongly encouraged.
  • Nothing by mouth starting 4 hours before exam.
  • Administer 6 oz. (180cc) of magnesium citrate1 at 4:00 pm the day before exam. Serve magnesium citrate chilled.
  • Administer 2 Dulcolax tablets at 6:00 pm the day before exam.
  • Nothing by mouth after 10:00 pm the night before exam.
14 years of age & older - Use adult prep.

What should I expect?

An inert natural compound, barium sulfate, is introduced into the colon through a narrow tube placed into your rectum. Air often is put into the colon through the same tube (This is known as an Air Contrast Barium Enema). The barium outlines the interior surface of the colon.

While the colon is being filled, the radiologist watches on a video monitor and takes x-ray images with a fluoroscope. You may be asked to move into different positions to reveal all parts of your colon on the x-rays.

After your colon is full and the radiologist has taken images with the fluoroscope, the technologist will take a few additional x-ray images with you in various positions designed to visualize the entire colon. Your colon will feel full at this point in the exam, but unless some cramping occurs, most patients do not experience any pain. After the images are checked, you will be allowed to go to the rest room.

The procedure takes 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

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Upper Gastrointestinal Exam (UGI)

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What is an Upper Gastrointestinal Exam?

The upper gastrointestinal (UGI) tract extends from the esophagus to the end of the small bowel. Three separate x-ray examinations may be done, either alone or in combination, to produce images of this system. The 3 exams are:

  • Barium Swallow, a barium contrast examination of the
  • Upper GI (UGI), a barium contrast examination of the stomach
  • Small-bowel series, a barium contrast examination of the small intestine

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.

How should I prepare?

If you are undergoing any or all of the Upper GI Series studies, please do not drink water, take oral medications, smoke, or chew gum the morning of the exam. You should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the day of your exam. If you are having a Small Bowel exam, be prepared to stay several hours in the office as the barium travels through the intestine at different speeds for different people.

What should I expect?

Each of the three exams requires that you drink a barium contrast solution. The barium coats the lining of these structures and this is what makes them visible on the x-ray images. A substance similar to Alka-Seltzer is also used commonly during UGI exams. This consists of little crystals that produce air in the stomach once they are swallowed. The air extends the stomach and helps the radiologist to see the surfaces without so much overlap of tissue.

For a Barium Swallow or Upper GI, the radiologist will use the fluoroscope to watch and take images while you drink the contrast. For a Small Bowel Series examination, you'll first drink the contrast and then a technologist will periodically take films of your abdomen until the contrast has traversed the entire length of your small intestine (about 33 feet). When the contrast reaches the junction of the small and large intestine, the radiologist will take a couple of additional fluoroscopic images.

Barium Swallow and Upper GI exams take about 15 to 30 minutes. A small-bowel exam may take several hours, depending upon the speed at which the contrast moves through your small intestine. Every 15-30 minutes, a regular x-ray will be taken to follow the barium through the small bowel.

Locations that provide fluoroscopy exams

Pembrooke - Waldorf, MD
Heritage - Clinton, MD
Patuxent - Prince Frederick, MD
Sterling, VA
Lansdowne, VA

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