Fluoroscopy For Children

Fluoroscopy For Children

Fluoroscopy helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions. Find out more about what fluoroscopy involves.

A child's guide to hospital: Video Fluoroscopy

A short video for children about what to expect before and during a fluoroscopy scan.
Video by The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne.


Key points about fluoroscopy in children

  • fluoroscopy uses continuous x-rays to create a movie
  • during a fluoroscopy procedure, the continuous x-ray movie is recorded to help see inside your child's body
  • fluoroscopy procedures may use contrast to get better images from inside the body
  • fluoroscopy helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditionscon

What is fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a medical procedure that uses continuous x-ray beams to create moving images of the inside of the body. Fluoroscopy helps doctors see how different organs and systems are functioning in real-time. A doctor may recommend fluoroscopy to help understand what's happening inside your child's body.

How long will fluoroscopy take for my child?

Having pictures taken in fluoroscopy can take between 10 to 45 minutes. It depends on what type of pictures they are. Sometimes, your child may need to wait some minutes to hours between pictures, but if this happens, you may be able to go away for a break in between.

How does fluoroscopy work?

Your child will lie on a bed, and the fluoroscopy camera will move around your child. It may come quite close but it will not touch them. The technician will take images from different angles. Your child might need to move into different positions. The staff will help them do this.

Fluoroscopy often involves the use of contrast, which is a special substance that can be seen on x-rays. This allows the relevant structure inside the body to be seen clearly on the fluoroscopy screen. Your child may need to have contrast. It depends on the procedure they are having.

Who will my child meet during fluoroscopy? 

In fluoroscopy, your child will meet a medical imaging technician and sometimes also a nurse, who will look after them and help take the pictures. They will also meet a radiologist, who is the doctor who supervises the fluroscopy. These people can answer your questions and let your child know what they need to do. 

You and your child may also meet other people, such as a play therapist.

What will my child see during fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy camera 

A fluoroscopy camera is big - it needs to be so it can take pictures of the whole body! The photo of the fluoroscopy camera below is from The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne and is covered in stickers.

2 photos of a fluoroscopy camera

Fluoroscopy bed

There's also a bed to lie on. Your child might need to roll over while their pictures are taken, but the staff will help them do this.

photo of a fluoroscopy bed

Fluoroscopy lead apron

All the people in the fluoroscopy room with your child will wear a special outfit. This stops the camera from taking their picture too.

image of radiographer next to a fluoroscopy machine

Will my child need any preparation before fluoroscopy?

Some tamariki may also need to have contrast to help get better pictures during their scan. 

Contrasts and tracers

Most pictures in fluoroscopy need something called 'barium' or 'contrast'. These are special liquids that can be seen in your child's pictures.

Contrasts and barium go into the body and change how the pictures look. There are lots of different types of contrast - some you drink and there are others that need to go into a vein with a little straw called a 'cannula'. Some might also need to go into a tube that your child may already have in place. Sometimes, your child might need a small tube which goes into their bladder or bowel. This is for the contrast to go through.

If your child needs contrast or barium, this will usually be written in your appointment letter. Sometimes, your child needs to stop eating and drinking for a few hours before the appointment. You may also need to arrive earlier for their appointment. This gives the staff time to prepare and give the barium or contrast before the scan. 

What will my child need to do during fluoroscopy?

Keeping still

It is important that your child tries to keep still while they have their scan. If they move around too much, it can make the pictures blurry. It is OK for your child to breathe normally, blink and stay relaxed. 

What to wear

Have your child dressed in comfy clothes. It's important your child doesn't wear clothes with prints, sequins, glitter or metal on them, as they can get in the way of the pictures. If you forget, the radiographer will give your child a hospital gown to wear while they have their scan. 

Holding their breath

If your child is having images taken of their chest or abdomen (tummy area), they may need to hold their breath for short periods. You can practise this before their appointment.

How can I help my child prepare for fluoroscopy?

Asking questions

Check the date and time of your child's scan and see if there is anything you need to do beforehand to prepare. If you have any questions about the scan, contact the hospital where the scan will take place. Ask to speak to the receptionist at the fluoroscopy department.

Play therapy

Some hospitals have play therapists that could be involved with your child and their scan. They can support your child with activities to help them feel more comfortable about getting a scan. 

What to bring

Sometimes, you may need to wait around before your child has their scan. It's a good idea to bring some things to keep your child busy, such as books or toys. Your child may be able to take a favourite soft toy or comforter into the scan with them. 

Preparing your child

It is important to talk to your child and explain why they are having a scan and what it will involve. How and when you do this will depend on their age and your judgement. The Okee in Medical Imaging App can help you to prepare your child for their scan.

Okee in Medical Imaging App

The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne has an app you can download onto your phone or tablet. It has games that help your child to practise keeping still and holding their breath. It also has games that help explain the different types of scans.

The app is called Okee in Medical Imaging and is available from the app store.

Screenshot of the OKEE app

Please be aware that some of the content in the app is specific to Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne.

See more KidsHealth content on x-rays and scans

See the KidsHealth's section on x-rays and scans

Screenshot of KidsHealth website x-rays and scans section


Content adapted and republished, with permission, from resources at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Images subject to copyright.

This page last reviewed 13 September 2023.

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