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Tests and Procedures

Chest Fluoroscopy

What is chest fluoroscopy?

Chest fluoroscopy is an imaging test that uses X-rays to look at how well your lungs are working. It can also look at other parts of your respiratory tract. Your respiratory tract includes your lungs, nose, throat, trachea, and bronchi.

Fluoroscopy is a kind of X-ray "movie." This test uses more radiation than a standard chest X-ray. So your health care provider will make sure that this test is important for a diagnosis.

Why might I need a chest fluoroscopy?

You may need chest fluoroscopy if your health care provider needs to see how well your lungs, diaphragm, or other parts of your chest are working. Your provider may order this test if he or she thinks you may have:

  • Less movement or no movement in your diaphragm because of lung disease or injury
  • Less air movement in your lungs (loss of lung elasticity)
  • Blockage (obstruction) in your bronchioles
  • Fluid in the space between your lungs and your chest wall (pleural effusion)
  • Mass in your chest cavity

This test may also be used along with other tests or treatments. For example, the radiologist can use this test to help guide where needles or long tubes (catheters) should be placed in your chest.

Your provider may have other reasons to recommend chest fluoroscopy.

What are the risks of a chest fluoroscopy?

You may want to ask your health care provider about the amount of radiation used during the test. Also ask about the risks as they apply to you.

Consider writing down all X-rays you get, including past scans and X-rays for other health reasons. Show this list to your provider. The risks of radiation exposure may be tied to the number of X-rays you have and the X-ray treatments you have over time.

Tell your health care provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.

You may have other risks depending on your specific health condition. Be sure to talk with your provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.

How do I get ready for a chest fluoroscopy?

  • Your health care provider will explain the procedure to you. Ask him or her any questions you have about the procedure.
  • You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if anything is not clear.
  • You usually do not need to stop eating or drinking before the test. You also usually will not need medicine to help you relax (sedation).
  • Tell your health care provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • Tell your health care provider if you have any body piercing on your chest.
  • Follow any other instructions your provider gives you to get ready.

What happens during a chest fluoroscopy?

You may have chest fluoroscopy as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your health care provider's practices.

Generally, chest fluoroscopy follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may get in the way of the test.
  2. You may be asked to remove clothing. If so, you will be given a gown to wear.
  3. You will stand between the X-ray machine and the fluoroscopic screen. If you are unable to stand, you will be put on an X-ray table. You may be asked to move into different positions, cough, or hold your breath while the fluoroscopy is being done.
  4. The radiologist will use a special X-ray scanner to make images of your chest. The fluoroscopy images may be seen on a monitor. This lets the radiologist see how parts of your chest move during the test.
  5. The test is done when the radiologist has taken all pictures he or she needs.

What happens after a chest fluoroscopy?

You do not need any special care after chest fluoroscopy. Your health care provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
  • The name of the test or procedure
  • The reason you are having the test or procedure
  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure and who will do it
  • When and how will you get the results
  • How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure
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