X-Rays and Fluoroscopy

What Are X-Rays?

X-rays are images produced by an x-ray tube and film or image receptor. X-rays are used to show your bones, muscles, and soft tissue. Sometimes “contrast agents” are used to highlight different body parts. Chattanooga Imaging offers digital x-ray, which eliminates the need for filming each exam. It also allows the technologist to adjust the density of an image, often eliminating the need for repeating an image.

What Is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures — similar to an x-ray “movie.” A continuous x-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined and is transmitted to a TV-like monitor to enable detailed viewing of that body part and its motion.

What To Expect

For traditional x-rays, you will be asked to stand, sit, or lie on a table while the images are being taken. The amount of time required for the exam will depend on the number of x-ray images the technologist needs to take.

Your x-rays will be sent to the radiologist for interpretation. The radiologist may want to compare your images to previous studies you have had, so please let us know if you have had x-rays before. Once finished interpreting your x-rays, the radiologist will send a report to your physician.

X-rays Using Contrast Agents

  • Upper Gastro-Intestinal Series, Barium Swallow, Swallowing Study with Speech Pathology, Small Bowel Follow-Through: These tests evaluate the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract and are helpful in the detection of cancer, ulcers, and other conditions. They are often ordered for patients who complain of a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhea, swallowing difficulty, weight loss, blood in the stool, and anemia. You will be asked to drink a liquid barium suspension, and the radiologist will use a fluoroscopic x-ray camera to take a series of pictures of you in a variety of positions. The upper gastrointestinal series and barium swallow examinations typically take between 10 and 20 minutes (although the amount of actual x-ray exposure is usually less than 5 minutes). If your doctor has ordered a small bowel follow-through, additional pictures will be required to evaluate the entire small bowel as the barium passes from the stomach to the colon. This usually adds another 30 to 60 minutes to the exam time. The liquid barium suspension will pass directly into your stool without being absorbed by your system. Since the barium may cause constipation, it is important to drink plenty of fluids after the examination to ensure that the barium passes freely from your system.
  • Intravenous Urogram (IVP): This exam looks at the anatomy and function of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters. Your physician may order this exam if you have known kidney stones or if you are experiencing suspicious symptoms, such as flank pain, which may indicate the presence of stones. This exam is also commonly ordered if you have blood in your urine. Before the exam begins, you will receive an injection of a contrast agent, after which the technologist will take a series of x-rays that will be reviewed by the radiologist. The entire exam generally takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Barium Enema: This exam is used by your physician to study the anatomy of the large intestine and to look for cancer, polyps, and inflammation. Your physician may order a barium enema if you have a history of blood in your stool; if you have experienced a change in bowel movement regularity; if you have diverticulitis, which is an inflammatory condition of the colon that can cause fever and abdominal pain; or if you unexpectedly lose weight or develop anemia. During the exam, a technologist will take a series of initial radiographs which the radiologist will examine to see whether the colon is sufficiently free of stool to perform the exam. The technologist will first place an enema tip, which will allow the radiologist to fill the colon with barium and air and take a series of x-ray images. The entire exam usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes, although actual exposure to x-rays is only a fraction of the total time. In some cases, you receive an injection of glucagon, a naturally occurring hormone that helps to relax the colon. Once the exam is completed, you should drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation.
  • Arthrogram: This exam is a radiographic study of a joint that has been injected with a contrast material and/or air to outline the soft tissue and joint structures. It is usually performed to evaluate abnormalities of the shoulder, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle in patients who have been experiencing persistent joint pain. Arthrographic images can help identify problems with how a joint is functioning or may indicate that a joint needs to be replaced.
  • Hystersalpingiogram (HSG): This is an outpatient procedure that is usually done within the first 10 days of a normal menstrual cycle. During the exam, a dye containing iodine is injected through the cervix and allowed to flow into the uterus and through the tubes. If there are no tube blockages, the dye spills out into the abdomen, indicating a normal, healthy condition. X-ray images are taken during the exam to show the condition of the tubes and uterine cavity. Sometimes the dye is watched on a fluoroscopy monitor as it flows through the tubes.

Patient Preparation


No special patient preparation is required.

X-Rays Using Contrast Agents

Please follow these instructions before coming in for your exam:

Upper GI
  • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your exam.
  • Do not take medications on the morning of your exam. You may bring any required medications with you to take after the exam.
Intravenous Urogram (IVP)
  • Pick up a prep kit from our front desk and follow the instructions on the back of the box.
Barium Enema/Gallbladder
  • Pick up a prep kit from our front desk and follow the instructions on the back of the box.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your exam.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Because metal can affect the image, please do not wear anything with metal snaps or zippers.
  • Before your exam, you will be asked to remove items such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, hairpins, and jewelry.
  • Let us know if you think you may be pregnant.
  • Eat something light the night before your exam, like soup or salad.
  • Take a laxative the night before your exam.
  • Do not eat or drink anything on the morning of your exam.
  • Urinate right before the exam.
  • Let us know if you are allergic to contrast dye or seafood.