Category: Injections | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Imaging techniques have come a long way since the first X-ray, and now doctors are able to see much more clearly and in real time during an operation. One such advanced technique that takes advantage of real-time imaging is known as a fluoroscopy. Here’s a closer look at the imaging technique and why it is beneficial for spine surgeons and their patients.
What is a Fluoroscopy?
In the simplest terms, a fluoroscopy is a moving x-ray that allows the doctors to see structures in real-time. So instead of one x-ray beam being sent through a person to take a still image, a fluoroscopy works by sending a continuous x-ray beam through the patient. The beam is then transmitted onto a TV monitor so that the body part, the surrounding structures and any movements can be viewed in continuous detail. Doctors and surgeons can use the technology to look at a variety of different body systems, including the digestive, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and urinary systems. Not only can it portray images of bones, but doctors can also view muscles, joints and solid organs.
A fluoroscopy may be ordered for a number of reasons, especially for spinal procedures. Most commonly they are used during spinal taps (lumbar punctures) or during other injections into the spinal canal. They can also be used to help diagnose a spinal condition.
Risks of Fluoroscopy
The main risk, which is something that is closely monitored and controlled by the medical team, is the amount of radiation the patient is exposed to. You should ask your doctor about the radiation exposure prior to the exam, and be sure to tell your doctor about other x-ray procedures you’ve undergone that may not be evident on your medical records. Undergoing one fluoroscopy is unlikely to increase your risk of radiation-induced cancer, but risks rise if you need to have a number of radiographs over a long period of time.
Patients who are pregnant or who expect that they may be pregnant should notify their doctor prior to the procedure to determine if it is safe to continue. There will also be other risks depending on your procedure. For example, a person receiving a spinal injection could suffer some complications like infection, nerve damage from the needle or excessive bleeding. Talk to your spine surgeon about any concerns you might have prior to the procedure.
Although there are some minor risks involved, when conducted by a skilled radiologist and surgical team, fluoroscopic examines provide a substantial diagnostic and in-operative benefit to both practitioner and patient.