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 healthcare 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 healthcare provider needs to see how well your lungs, diaphragm, or other parts of your chest are working. Your provider may order this test if they think 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 in your bronchioles

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. Talk with your healthcare provider about the reason for this test.

What are the risks of a chest fluoroscopy?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the test. Also ask about how the risks 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 healthcare 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 healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you. Ask them 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 don't need to stop eating or drinking before the test. You also usually will not need medicine to help you relax (sedation).

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any body piercings 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 healthcare provider's practices.

Generally, chest fluoroscopy follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove any jewelry, or other objects that may get in the way of the test.

  2. You will be asked to remove clothing, and 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 will 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 the pictures they need.

What happens after a chest fluoroscopy?

You don't need any special care after a chest fluoroscopy. Your healthcare 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

  • What results to expect and what they mean

  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure

  • What the possible side effects or complications are

  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure

  • Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are

  • What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure

  • Any alternative tests or procedures to think about

  • When and how you will get the results

  • Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems

  • How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure

Online Medical Reviewer: Neil Grossman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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