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Unity x-ray

Mercy x-ray


Diagnostic X-ray

Diagnostic X-ray encompasses many different types of exams such as bone imaging, chest X-rays, abdomen films, fluoroscopy and studies using contrast agents.

Exams that are done using fluoroscopy allow the radiologist to visualize the motion of internal structures and fluids. Using a variety of contrast materials (liquids that are visible with X-ray) that include barium and iodinated compounds, health care professionals can obtain images of the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon, kidneys and spinal canal.


X-rays cannot "see" soft tissue such as the digestive tract. To acquire an X-ray of these organs, it is necessary to use a contrast agent. Imaging of the upper digestive tract, often called an "upper GI series," includes the organs from the mouth to the beginning of the small intestine; the contrast agent is taken orally. Imaging of the lower digestive tract, often called a barium enema, includes the colon and rectum; the contrast agent is administered as an enema at the time of your imaging appointment. The small bowel follow through, the portion of your digestive tract between the stomach and the colon, may also be visualized with the use of oral barium.


Let your technologist know about any of the following:

  • Any previous surgeries
  • You are or think you may be pregnant
  • Allergies including latex allergies or sensitivity
  • When you last ate or drank
  • Medications you are taking

Patient experience

Fluoroscopy exams, also known as tableside exams, are done by the radiologist, assisted by the technologist. You will be asked to shift your position from time to time so the radiologist and technologist can capture the clearest images. The radiologist will explain the procedure as the exam progresses.

Each exam takes approximately 30 minutes. Depending on the type of exam, you may have to hold your breath briefly several times. You may need to resist the urge to burp, or you'll feel the need to go to the bathroom. Pressure may be applied to your abdomen and air may be added in addition to the barium. The radiologist or the technologist will be at your side explaining what is being done and why. The small bowel study may take up to two hours to complete.

When the exam is over, the technologist will assist you from the table and out of the room.

Patient preparation

Because the images are of your digestive tract, it is important for you to follow the general dietary instructions provided by your doctor and the imaging specialists.

You must have with you:

  • previous X-rays pertaining to your history as requested by the imaging department (if the exam is the same or related to the current study)
  • complete insurance information including your insurance card

Be sure to wear comfortable clothes. You will be asked to change into a gown for the exam. Your doctor will provide a prep sheet with specific instructions. Certain exams require a preparation kit, available at the clinic or the radiology department at Mercy & Unity Hospitals, which includes complete instructions.


Your X-ray images will be interpreted by a board certified radiologist and the findings will be given to your physician. Your physician will contact you to share and discuss the results.