Types of General Radiology & Fluoroscopy

Barium Enema (BE)

This examination is used to evaluate the anatomy of the colon (large intestine) as well as in the detection of colon polyps, cancer, and inflammation. Common reasons for ordering and performing this exam include a history of blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, diverticulitis (an inflammatory condition of the colon that can cause fever and abdominal pain), and unexplained weight loss or anemia. A technologist will take a series of initial (scout) radiographs for review by the radiologist who will determine if the colon is sufficiently prepped (free of stool) to perform the examination. After the enema tip is placed by the technologist, the radiologist will perform the examination which involves filling the colon with barium and air and taking a series of x-ray pictures. The exam time is usually between 30 and 60 minutes (although the actual x-ray exposure time is considerably less than this). In some instances, the radiologist may decide to give you an injection of a medicine called glucagon. This is a naturally occurring hormone which helps relax the colon. After the examination is completed, drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation.


Intravenous Urogram (IVP)

This examination is designed to test the function and examine the anatomy of the kidneys, ureters and bladder. It is typically ordered for people who have known kidney stones or who are complaining of symptoms that are felt by their physicians to be suspicious for kidney stones (such as flank pain). Another common reason for ordering and performing this test is for the evaluation of hematuria (blood in the urine). The test requires the injection of a contrast agent. After the contrast is administered, a series of radiographs (x-rays) will be obtained and reviewed by the radiologist. The test usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete.


Upper Gastro-Intestinal Series (Upper GI), Barium Swallow (Esophogram) or 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 take a series of pictures with a fluoroscopic unit (x-ray camera) with you in a variety of different 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 are required to evaluate the entire small bowel as the barium passes from the stomach to the colon. This typically adds another 30 to 60 minutes to the examination time. The liquid barium suspension is an inert substance, meaning that it 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 is complete to insure that the barium passes freely from your system.