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Should I get a Fluoroscopy or an X-Ray?

Fluoroscopy or XRay

Medical imaging tests help doctors diagnose and treat many conditions. A fluoroscopy and an X-ray are two of the most commonly performed. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between the two, and what risks and benefits both involve.

What is a Fluoroscopy and an X-ray? What are they used for?


Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that uses a flow of X-ray images to produce a real time “movie” of your internal structures. As your doctor views the streaming images, he or she can see internal organ functioning. A computer saves the video stream. Many fluoroscopy procedures also involve the use of a contrast solution, usually barium. Your doctor watches the contrast agent move through different body parts.

Fluoroscopy is used in many different ways to diagnose or treat medical conditions such as:

  • Barium tests to view the GI tract
  • Angiograms to view blood vessels and organs
  • Placement of devices within the body
  • Reproductive organ exams to view the inside of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and surrounding areas


An X-ray is a fast, non-invasive, and painless type of diagnostic imaging that provides pictures of the solid structures inside your body, such as your soft tissues, bones, lungs and other internal organs. A radiologic technologist takes the X-rays.

X-rays are used in many different ways to diagnose or treat medical conditions such as:

  • Digestive tract issues
  • Lung and chest problems
  • Bone fractures
  • Bone cancer
  • Chest cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Enlarged heart
  • Blocked blood vessels

What are the similarities between a Fluoroscopy and an X-ray?

Both imaging techniques take images of the body’s internal structures. X-rays produce still images, as opposed to fluoroscopy which produces dynamic images as video.

What are the differences between a Fluoroscopy and an X-ray?

Fluoroscopy uses low-powered x-rays over short periods of time to create moving images. Traditional x-ray imaging uses higher energy in shorter bursts to create still images.

What are the benefits of both Fluoroscopy and X-rays?

The benefits of both fluoroscopy and X-ray imaging tests are:

  • Quick, non-invasive and painless procedures
  • Can be performed in an office during a short visit
  • Highlight or magnify areas of the body needing examination
  • Provide information for medical and surgical treatment planning

What are the risks of Fluoroscopy and X-rays?

Both fluoroscopy and X-ray expose the body to radiation, so they carry radiation-related risks. This may increase the risk of developing cancer down the road, although a person's chance of getting cancer from one test is small. The radiation exposure from a fluoroscopy or X-ray is mostly low, and the benefits outweigh the risks in most cases.

If your fluoroscopy involves a contrast agent, there is a low risk of an allergic reaction.

How to Minimize Risk from Fluoroscopy and X-ray Scans

  • A central record that you keep of your medical imaging tests will help you track your radiation exposure from scans. Show the record to your doctor.
  • When your doctor recommends such a test, it’s important to confirm that the test is medically justified. A second opinion can help in this area.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor or the medical imaging office if you’re pregnant before scheduling either of these medical imaging scans.
  • Use a radiology office that performs medical imaging tests using the latest and highest quality equipment certified by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

If you need to book a fluoroscopy or X-ray imaging test, contact our board-certified radiologists at Neighborhood Radiology Services. We have many convenient locations throughout the New York Metropolitan Area. Fill out the form on this page to request an appointment or call 800-220-2220 to learn more.

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