What Is Fluoroscopy And How Can It Help?

If your veterinarian has recommended fluoroscopy for your pet, you might be wondering what that means. Today, our Boulder vet team shares some information about fluoroscopic imaging and conditions it can help to identify.

What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a kind of diagnostic imaging that allows veterinarians to observe the inside of your pet's body while in motion. Unlike X-rays, wherein your cat or dog usually has to be put under anesthesia in order to keep them still enough to take clear images of their internal structures, fluoroscopy can capture an 'X-ray movie' to watch and replay to diagnose internal conditions that X-rays might miss. 

Veterinarians often use fluoroscopy to 'see' moving body systems like the heart, respiratory system, and digestive system. 

Swallow Study With Fluoroscopy

Your veterinarian might recommend a swallow study using fluoroscopy if your pet has a number of issues with swallowing including difficulty consuming food, regurgitating after eating, or a suspected esophageal motility disorder. 

In order to perform a swallow study, your pet will be placed in the box and fed foods with different consistencies: liquid, semi-wet soft food, and dry kibble. The foods are prepared with a substance that will appear brightly on the fluoroscopic exam. This enables the easier observation of the food through the parts of the body used during the process of swallowing.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Pets suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) experience regurgitation of food and stomach acid, which could lead to esophageal irritation (think of intense heartburn). Ongoing GERD can cause further complications like esophageal damage, appetite loss, and your pet aspirating (breathing in) regurgitated material. A fluoroscopic study can help to diagnose these issues early and start treatment sooner. 

Esophageal Motility Disorders

If your pet is experiencing trouble with swallowing their food, they may have an esophageal motility disorder. This means that there is an issue affecting the ability of the esophageal muscles to move and push food quickly and efficiently into the stomach, which could lead to food moving too slowly through the esophagus. Coughing, spitting up food, and even serious issues like accidentally inhaling food particles into the lungs, are all issues that can be diagnosed using fluoroscopy. 

Dynamic Airway Examination

If your pet breathes noisily, has trouble breathing easily, or coughs often, your vet might suspect an airway obstruction and order fluoroscopy to identify the presence of any abnormalities in your pet's internal respiratory structures. Conditions that can be diagnosed with fluoroscopy include collapsing trachea and a number of epiglottic abnormalities. With the ability to see the airway issue in motion, your veterinarian can better assess the exact nature of the illness and recommend the appropriate treatment. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is having trouble with swallowing or keeping their kibble down, contact our Boulder vet team. Diagnostic imaging can help pinpoint the problem and start treatment faster.