Fairfax Radiological Consultants

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What Is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a specialized imaging process that allows Radiologists to view a patient’s organs in real time and is often used to evaluate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. To image the GI tract, a contrast agent such as barium is used. Fluoroscopy gives us the ability to watch barium as it passes through a patient’s body and provides essential information for evaluating and diagnosing GI function and anatomy. Our Radiologists, with the assistance of highly trained Technologists, perform Esophagrams, Upper GIs, Barium Enemas and other Fluoroscopy exams in a safe and private manner. These exams always require a special preparation that is provided during the patient scheduling process. At Fairfax Radiology, we are focused on patient comfort and the highest quality imaging.

What types of GI Fluoroscopy Exams does Fairfax Radiology offer?

  • Esophagram (sometimes referred to as Barium Swallow)
    A special X-ray exam that uses a contrast agent (barium) to evaluate the anatomy and functioning of the esophagus while swallowing.
  • Upper Gastrointestinal Exam (Upper GI)
    A special X-ray exam that uses a contrast agent (barium) to evaluate the anatomy and functioning of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
  • Barium Enema (Lower GI)
    A special X-ray exam that uses a contrast agent (usually barium) to evaluate and produce images of the colon.
  • Small Bowel Follow Through
    A special X-ray exam that uses a contrast agent (usually barium) to evaluate and produce images of the small intestine.

Common Questions

  • Why would my physician recommend an Esophagram?

    Your physician may recommend an Esophagram if you have difficulty swallowing, have chest pain, to evaluate for reflux or for esophageal evaluation after surgery.


  • Why would my physician recommend an Upper GI?

    Your physician may recommend an Upper GI to help diagnose symptoms such as chest or abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, indigestion, vomiting, blood in your stools or symptoms of reflux. The Upper GI will help your physician evaluate your upper gastrointestinal system and potentially diagnose the cause of these symptoms.

  • How are an Esophagram and an Upper GI performed?

    A Radiologic Technologist and a Radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will be guiding you through the procedure.

    You will be asked to drink liquid barium and possibly gas-producing crystals. The Radiologist will watch the barium pass through the digestive tract via a Fluoroscope, a device that displays radiographic images in a movie-like sequence onto a monitor. The exam table will be positioned at different angles and the abdomen may be compressed to better delineate portions of your GI tract. Once the upper GI tract is adequately coated with the barium, still X-ray images will be taken and stored for further review.


  • What does barium taste like?

    Liquid barium is a chalky substance that resembles a milkshake. Its chalky taste is somewhat diminished by added flavors (e.g. strawberry or vanilla).

  • What will I experience after an Esophagram or Upper GI procedure?

    The barium may color your stools gray or white, often for 48 to 72 hours after the procedure. Sometimes the barium can cause temporary constipation, which can be treated by an over-the-counter laxative. Drinking large quantities of fluids for several days following the test can also help. If you are unable to have a bowel movement or if your bowel habits undergo significant changes following the exam, you should contact your physician.

  • Why would my physician recommend a Barium Enema?

    Your physician may recommend a Barium Enema, also known as a Lower GI, to help diagnose symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, blood in your stools, constipation, abdominal pain, weight loss, incomplete colonoscopy or other abdominal issues.

  • What will I experience after a Barium Enema?

    After the exam, you may still have some barium left in your system. This will be expelled during bowel movements. Until all of the barium is gone, it is normal to have white stools for a few days. You may also experience some abdominal cramping and constipation, which is usually short-lived. You can reduce your risk of constipation by drinking extra fluids and taking a laxative, if needed. Most people who have a barium enema are able to return to their normal activities right away.

  • How do I schedule a Fluoroscopy-Guided Procedure with Fairfax Radiology?

    Contact our Scheduling Department for an appointment:

    Phone: 703.698.4488 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm

    Fax: 703.698.0864

    Or click here to make an appointment request

    Please have your written physician order and your insurance card in hand when making your appointment.

  • When are appointments offered for Fluoroscopy Procedures?

    For your convenience, appointments are available at the locations listed below. Click on a location for hours and information.

Available at the following location

Reston-Herndon Imaging Center

Reston-Herndon Imaging Center

100 Elden Street
Suite 16 (X-Ray, CT, Fluoro)
Herndon, Virginia 20170

102 Elden Street
Suite 11 (Ultrasound)
Herndon, Virginia 20170


The Radiologist was excellent, caring, and explained everything. Very professional. The radiology technologist was also great - explained everything to me prior to start of my UGI - personable, friendly. Thank you!

Mark M