Barium Swallow in Radiology

A barium swallow also called an esophagogram, is an imaging test that checks for problems in your upper GI tract. Your upper GI tract includes your mouth, back of the throat, esophagus, stomach, and first part of your small intestine. The test uses a special type of x-ray called fluoroscopy.

Barium swallow in radiology

1. What does a barium swallow test for?

A barium swallow is a test that shows the inside of your food pipe (esophagus). Doctors can use it to help diagnose oesophageal cancer. You drink white barium liquid, which shows up on x-rays. Your doctor (radiologist) or radiographer then takes x-rays while you swallow the liquid.

2. How does a barium swallow?

To do a barium swallow, you swallow a chalky white substance known as barium. It's often mixed with water to make a thick drink that looks like a milkshake. When it's swallowed, this liquid coats the inside of your upper GI. Barium absorbs X-rays and looks white on X-ray film.

3. How much do you have to drink for a barium swallow?

You will drink about 1 1/2 cups of a barium preparation-a chalky drink with the consistency (but not the flavor) of a milkshake. Children will drink less. The barium can be seen on an X-ray as it passes through the digestive tract. The barium swallow procedure may take about 30 minutes to finish.

4. Are you sedated for a barium swallow?

A barium swallow is an outpatient procedure that does not require sedation or anesthesia. When you eat, your tongue moves chewed food to the back of your throat.

5. How do you feel after a barium swallow?

Side Effects

  • Bloating.
  • constipation (severe, continuing)
  • cramping (severe)
  • nausea or vomiting.
  • stomach pain.
  • trouble breathing.

Patients may feel nauseous after a barium swallow test or become constipated. Drinking lots of fluids can help to relieve constipation. Symptoms of nausea should improve as the barium passes through the system.

6. Can you drive after barium swallow?

You should not drive immediately after the procedure because some of the drugs can affect vision. You may feel a bit ill after the procedure and can be quite constipated for several days. You should drink lots of fluid and eat lots of fruit to minimize constipation.

7. How do you prepare for a barium swallow test?

You can prepare for a barium swallow test by considering the following:

Your healthcare provider will explain the barium swallow test to you.

.You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives permission to do the swallowing test.

.You will need to stop eating and drinking for about 8 hours before the swallowing test.

8. What does a swallow test consist of?

The test uses X-rays in real-time (fluoroscopy) to film as you swallow. You'll swallow a substance called barium that is mixed with liquid and food. The barium shows the movements of your throat and esophagus on the X-ray while you swallow.

9. What does it mean if you fail a swallow test?

Test failure is defined as the inability to drink the entire amount continuously, any cough up to 1 min after the swallowing attempt, or the development of a wet, gurgly, or hoarse vocal quality.

10. How do you flush the barium out of your system?

Therefore, to help prevent constipation:

  • Have lots to drink for a day or so to flush the barium out of your gut.
  • Eat plenty of fruit for a day or so.
  • See your doctor if you haven't passed any poo after three or four days.

11. Do you pee out barium?

If you have drunk barium, expect to have chalky appearing stools for several days. If you have drunk the liquid contrast, this will be excreted in your urine (and will not change the normal color).

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