Fluoroscopy can be thought of as an x-ray movie. During this test, the radiologist watches barium in different parts of the digestive track and takes a series of still pictures.
The four most common procedures are:
- upper GI
- barium swallow
- small bowel follow-through
- barium enema
For a barium swallow, upper GI and small bowel follow-through, the patient drinks a flavored, barium liquid which allows the radiologist to see the inside of the esophagus (food pipe), stomach and small bowel (intestine). Frequently, the patient will also have to drink a seltzer which distends the esophagus and stomach.
For a barium enema, a tube is inserted into the rectum through which barium liquid is administered to fill the colon. This is frequently followed by the administration of air. This test allows the radiologist to see the inside of the colon.