The beginning of fluoroscopy can be traced back to 8 November 1895 when Wilhelm Röntgen, or in English script Roentgen, noticed a barium platinocyanide screen fluorescing as a result of being exposed to what he would later call x-rays (algebraic x variable signifying "unknown"). Within months of this discovery, the first crude fluoroscopes were created. These experimental fluoroscopes were simply cardboard funnels, open at the narrow end for the eyes of the observer, while the wide end was closed with a thin cardboard piece that had been coated on the inside with a layer of fluorescent metal salt. The fluoroscopic image obtained in this way was quite faint. Even when finally improved and commercially introduced for diagnostic imaging, the limited light produced from the fluorescent screens of the earliest commercial scopes necessitated that a radiologist prior sat in the darkened room, where the imaging procedure was to be performed, to first accustom their eyes to increase their sensitivity to perceive light during the subsequent procedure. The placement of the radiologist behind the screen also resulted in significant dosing of the radiologist.
Common procedures using fluoroscopy
- Investigations of the gastrointestinal tract, including barium enemas, defecating proctograms, barium meals and barium swallows, and enteroclysis.See also section below
- Orthopaedic surgery to guide fracture reduction and the placement of metalwork.
- Angiography of the leg, heart and cerebral vessels.
- Placement of a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter)
- Placement of a weighted feeding tube (e.g. Dobhoff) into the duodenum after previous attempts without fluoroscopy have failed.
- Urological surgery – particularly in retrograde pyelography.
- Cardiology for diagnostic angiography, percutaneous coronary interventions, (pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization devices)
- Discography, an invasive diagnostic procedure for evaluation for intervertebral disc pathology.