The name derives from the C-shaped arm used to connect the x-ray source and x-ray detector to one another.

Fluoroscopy is an advanced imaging modality which uses real-time x-rays to produce moving images or still images of patients during procedures.

It is primarily used for orthopaedics, gastrointestinal (GI) tract imaging and interventional surgery. Orthopaedic surgeons may employ fluoroscopy for fracture reduction and internal fixation procedures. It can also be used for intra-operative x-ray, and so may avoid the need for immediate post-operative radiographs obtained in a non-sterile environment.

Studies of the gastrointestinal tract can be carried out by mixing food or drink with barium contrast agents. Real-time images then depict the motion of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus and stomach as these items are ingested.

Minimally invasive techniques employed in interventional radiology include stent placement and vessel embolisation. In these cases iodine-based contrast is injected into blood vessels which are then opacified for a short period of time, allowing the clinician to visualise the relevant anatomy.