Mountaintop Medicine from Estes Park Health: Estes Park Health unveils new fluoroscopy

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Modern medicine uses amazing technology to look inside the body for diagnosis and treatment. Fluoroscopy – or moving x-ray – is one of the amazing tools radiologists use to peer inside and watch body functions and anatomy in real time. Estes Park Health installed a new fluoroscopy machine in the summer of 2023.

“The images are clearer,” said EPH Radiologist Dr. John Knudtson. “You can see the anatomy and the area of interest more clearly. It helps you look through the images and review the study with more detail. You can slow the images down. It makes your job easier. You get more details with your exams. You can see things that might have been more subtle or even missed. That usually translates into a better result and better outcome for the patient.”

This new machine – a Simens Luminos Agile Max Fluoroscopy Unit – was purchased with $600,000 provided by the Estes Park Health Foundation which raised the money during its fall 2022 campaign.

“I’m so grateful,” said EPH Speech Language Pathologist Annie Boyd. “It’s something that the hospital has needed for a while. We have an incredible community to be able to help us.”

Boyd is a Speech Language Pathologist helping conduct a modified barium swallow study for Estes Park patient Steve Mitchell. The new fluoroscopy unit will hopefully provide Steve with some answers to his recent swallowing problems.

“I’ve been having problems with my throat,” said Mitchell. “Like if popcorn gets stuck in there, it’s very painful.”

The study Mitchell had looks at swallowing from the moment the barium, the food, or the liquids hit the lips to when the substance goes into the esophagus.

Mitchell sat upright against the fluoroscopy machine and swallowed different textures of liquids and solids mixed with barium, an imaging agent.

The images are crystal clear and show the radiologist and the speech language pathologist exactly what’s going on.

“The thing that’s unique about fluoroscopy is that you can observe the body’s movement in real time and how things are actually working,” Dr. Knudtson explained.

The images can be still, video, or even slow-motion video so the healthcare professionals can assess what’s going on.

The new machine is a big improvement over the former technology that was in place.

“Oh, it’s amazing,” Boyd commented. “Such an improvement to be able to see it with such great clarity. The equipment runs so well.

“I have never seen in that detail,” Mitchell added. “It is very clear.”

Fluoroscopy is considered a vital piece of machinery for every modern diagnostic imaging department. Having it at Estes Park Health is a boon for patients and physicians.

“It’s a lot easier for them to come here and come to a smaller community hospital,” Dr. Knudtson stressed. “They travel less distance. We can take care of them right here. When the patient is ready, we can get them in and get them done as soon as it’s convenient for them and then those images and that study will go into the computer system and their doctors can view it from wherever they are.

Dr. Knudtson said he’s had numerous patients tell him they don’t want to leave town. They want to get their care in Estes Park.

“I like that I don’t have to drive down to the valley,” Mitchell commented.

Besides swallow studies, fluoroscopy can be used for esophagus exams, image-guided joint injections, and lumbar punctures, to name a few.

The table can be on its side for patients sitting, or horizontal for patients in the prone position.

The new fluoroscopy is a piece of equipment that’s used each week at Estes Park Health, and the staff is thrilled to have this important new piece of technology provided by the community.

“The biggest thing that I would have to say is number one thank you,” Dr. Knudtson stressed. “It makes a huge difference to be able to offer the kind of services that we can offer here with the quality that we can offer so that people feel like that are getting what they need.”

For precision testing using the latest technology close to home, think Estes Park Health.

To watch a video about the new fluoroscopy, go to