Fluoroscopy exams use X-rays to examine soft tissue organs – including the stomach, liver and intestines – and other internal structures to better visualize them during movement. A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined. The beam is transmitted to a monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail.


Fluoroscopy exams use X-rays to examine soft tissue organs and other internal structures. With a normal X-ray view, these structures have a unique density that provides only an outline image; the inner parts of the organ cannot be visualized. With fluoroscopy, barium or IV contrast agent is administered to the patient, allowing full views of the organs to obtain real-time moving images.

Fluoroscopy uses X-rays and ionizing radiation to produce images of the body area being evaluated. The amount of radiation you are exposed to during the exam depends on the tissue or organ being examined. If you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, let the technologist know right away as X-ray can be harmful to unborn babies. A contrast agent is used with fluoroscopy and there can be a risk of allergic reaction. Let us know if you have allergies or sensitivity to contrast media, iodine, medicines or latex.

Frequently ordered fluoroscopy exams include:

  • Upper GI Series – examines the esophagus and stomach
  • Barium Swallow or Esophagram – examines the esophagus
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – examines the uterus and fallopian tubes

Preparing for Your Exam

Patient peace of mind starts with the right preparation. In addition to the written order from your physician, please bring any prior images or reports from outside Washington Radiology with you to your appointment, if related to the reason for your visit with us.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

For premenopausal women, this exam must be performed between day five and 10 of the patient’s menstrual cycle. Take 800 milligrams of ibuprofen (if allowed by your physician) with food 30 minutes to an hour before the exam. 

The exam cannot be performed during the patient’s menstrual period, if the patient is pregnant, if there is a possibility of the patient being pregnant or if the patient has a pelvic infection.

Upper GI or Upper GI with Small Bowel Exam

The upper GI exam lasts about one hour. The upper GI with small bowel exam lasts two to five hours. We ask our patients not to take medications by mouth the day of the exam because this could interfere with the quality of the exam. Please consult your physician if there are medications that you feel are necessary to take.

  • After 8 p.m. the day before your exam, do not eat solid food.
  • From 8 p.m. to midnight the day before your exam, drink ONLY CLEAR LIQUIDS, including:
    • Water
    • Coffee or tea (with sugar but without cream, milk and artificial whitener)
    • Clear soft drinks
    • Consommé and other strained clear soups
    • Clear fruit juices with no pulp, including apple, cranberry, grape and strained orange juice
  • After midnight, do not eat, drink (NOT EVEN WATER), smoke or chew gum until your exam is over.

Eating solid food when clear liquids are specified may require rescheduling your appointment.

Small Bowel Fluoroscopy

No preparation is required.

Chest Fluoroscopy

No preparation is required.

If you have follow-up questions about these preparations, contact the Washington Radiology office where your exam is scheduled and ask to speak with the technologist.

Our Locations


Washington, DC


2141 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Bel Air, Colonnade


100 Fulford Avenue
Bel Air, MD 21014