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Stationary fluoro unit

Fig-1: Typical stationary fluroscopic unit found in x-ray department

C-arm

Fig-2: Typical C-arm found in operating room

Fluoroscopy is the method used to obtain real time images of the body.  In many diagnostic imaging departments the slang term "fluoro" is often used interchangeably. Fluoroscopy has multiple uses including:
  • Gastrointestinal studies
  • Urinary studies
  • Angiography
  • Imaging of joints (Arthrography)
  • Operating room

During the imaging sequence the patient is being radiographed and the resultant images will be viewed live on the television monitors located in the room.

Fluoroscopic procedures, radiologist will operate the equipment as they can make a visual diagnosis during the procedure. Radiological technologists will only operate the equipment when a diagnosis is not involved. During procedures such as gastrointestinal studies, radiological technologists will provide care to the patient before, during and after the procedures. Some patient care aspects include:

  • Obtaining a medical history before the exam. Radiological technologists may question patients if they have had anything to eat or drink.
  • Assisting the patient to move around on narrow table.
  • Instructing them to drink plenty of water after the procedure, or the physicians contact information should they have any questions.

Fluoroscopy is also present in many operating room settings, especially when the injection of contrast medium is performed to determine pathology or function of a body part/system, (i.e. urinary system). Some operating rooms have fixed fluoroscopic units in place which makes set-up for the exam very easy for the radiological technologist. There are also mobile fluoroscopic machines (better known as C-arms, Fig-2). These are moved from room to room and are used to guide imaging during procedures to insert pins or screws to correct broken bones.

In some hospitals it may be the role of the radiological technologist to activate the radiation of real time imaging (uses of foot pedals), but in many instances the radiation control would be in the hands of the performing physician. The main role of the radiological technologist is to perform the correct computer data entry, manipulate the C-arm upon the request of the performing physicia, therefore attentive listening is very important in the operating room as there are usually several people in the room and there are usually several conversations going on at once. The radiological technologist is responsible for the safety of the patient and other workers within the room to minimize radiation dose as much as possible. Radiological technologist must make sure all members involved in the procedure have the appropriate protection (refer to Is the job safe?).


References: 

Carleton, R.C., & Adler, A.M. (2001). Principles of Radiographic Imaging. Delmar Thompson Learning, 3rd Ed.

Bontrager, K.L, & Lampignano, J.P. (2005). Radiographic Positioning and Related Anatomy. Elsevier Mosby, 6th Ed.

University of Virginia (2006).  Fluoroscopy. Retrieved from: http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu

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