Fluoroscopy Exams Near Washington, DC

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, arthrography, and hysterosalpingography procedures. For nearly all 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 monitor. As with any X-ray, you do not feel any sensations from fluoroscopy itself.

Upper Gastrointestinal Tract

UGI and Barium Swallow

If you are undergoing any or all 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.

Small Bowel Follow-through

At 8 p.m. the day before the exam take 3 Dulcolax pills or 2 tbsp. of Milk of Magnesia. Between 8 p.m. and midnight only consume clear liquids.  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. Also, be prepared to stay several hours in the office as the barium travels through the intestine at different speeds for different people.

You are welcome to bring your medications to take immediately following the exam.

Barium Enema 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.

 Barium EnemFor 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
  • The day before exam, encourage drinking plenty of clear liquids.
  • Light meal includes any items from the “Clear Liquids Diet List”; one boiled or poached egg or small portion of skinless chicken/turkey or fish; white toast – no butter; one 8 fl. oz., can of Ensure®. Do not take Ensure® Plus.  Do not eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, butter, milk, cheese, beef, pork, lamb, or whole-grain cereals.
  • 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 the exam.
  • No solid foods after 10:00 pm the night before the exam.
6-13 years of age
  • Clear liquid diet the day before the exam. (Note: No milk or milk products.)
  • Throughout the day before the exam, clear liquids are strongly encouraged.
  • Nothing by mouth starting 4 hours before the exam.
  • Administer 6 oz. (180cc) of magnesium citrate1 at 4:00 pm the day before the exam. Serve magnesium citrate chilled.
  • Administer 2 Dulcolax tablets at 6:00 pm the day before the exam.
  • Nothing by mouth after 10:00 pm the night before the exam.

Clear liquids include:

  • Water
  • Lemonade
  • Strained fruit juices without pulp (apple, cranberry, orange, grape, etc.)
  • Clear broth or bouillon
  • Coffee or team (without milk or non-dairy creamer)
  • Gatorade
  • Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks
  • Kool-Aid (or other fruit-flavored drinks)
  • Jell-O (without added fruits or toppings)
  • Popsicles


No specific preparations for arthograms, but be aware these are often followed by MRI or CT scans. See MRI or CT for specific preparations before these examinations.


The day before the exam you may eat regular meals, but drink plenty of fluids. On the day of the exam please only have clear liquids for breakfast. Make sure you have transportation, as we cannot allow patients to drive themselves. Be prepared to be in office for several hours as you may be required to wait between the fluoroscopy procedure and CT scan.  Patients may want to bring food and beverage to be consumed during the recovery period. Drink plenty of fluids after the procedure. Please tell the scheduler if blood thinners are regularly or occasionally taken, as the patient may be asked to stop taking them by the radiologist before the exam.

Cystograms/Voiding Cystourethrogram

No preparation is needed

Gastrointestinal Exams

This includes UGI, Barium swallow (esophagram), and small bowel follow-through.

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 like Alka-Seltzer is also used commonly during UGI and Barium Swallow exams. This consists of little crystals that produce air when exposed to a liquid. The air extends the stomach and helps the radiologist to see the surfaces without so much overlap of tissue. A solid tablet that is made up of Barium may be given to patients to swallow during the UGI or Barium Swallow exams to evaluate for stricture or narrowing of the esophagus.

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.

Barium Enema

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 restroom.

The procedure takes 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

Arthrogram/Therapeutic Injection

Both exams include accessing the joint with a needle guided by fluoroscopic means. This requires the patient to lay flat, either supine or prone on the fluoroscopic table for the duration of the exam which can last up to 30 minutes. Most Arthrogram injections are followed immediately with either CT or MRI for evaluation. Arthrograms involve the injection of a contrast media into the joint to improve the diagnostic abilities of either the following MRI or CT. With the injection of contrast media, there will usually be a full/heavy feeling in the joint that will resolve within a few hours.


Myelograms are performed by accessing the spinal canal through the lower back and while introducing a contrast agent into the canal to improve the diagnostic abilities of the following CT scan. This will require the patient to lay prone on the fluoroscopic exam table for the duration of the exam, up to one hour. The following CT scan could be done immediately or up to 2 hours after injection depending on the part being evaluated. Note that the patient may be in the office for several hours.

Cystogram/Voiding Cystourethrogram

Cystography involves accessing the patient’s urinary tract through a catheter. Catheterization can be done in-office or beforehand. A contrast media is run through a catheter into the bladder. The radiologist will take multiple fluoroscopic images to evaluate the urinary tract.  The radiologist may require the patient to roll on the table for different views of the urinary tract. The patient could expect to be in the office for up to one hour. For VCUG, the patient may be asked to release their bladder while on the fluoroscopic table.

Follow Up

It is suggested that the patient stay well hydrated after any of the studies that require the ingestion of barium to prevent possible constipation. Also, note that white stool after any study involving barium is normal. This is due to barium not being digested like normal food or liquid that is normally consumed and is passed the same way it enters.

Locations that provide fluoroscopy exams

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


How do I make an Appointment?

Please have your physician’s order and insurance card if applicable in hand, and fill out the form below, or call (877) 504-9729.

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Call us at (877) 504-9729