A barium swallow is a procedure that uses a contrast medium called barium to visualise and evaluate the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The barium swallow helps healthcare providers diagnose and assess conditions affecting the esophagus, stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine.
Do not eat or drink anything from 10pm the night prior to your appointment. These studies are typically done early in the morning.
The appointment takes approximately 30 minutes.
The patient is given a liquid contrast medium containing barium to drink. This barium solution has a chalky consistency.
The patient is positioned in a fluoroscopy (screening) machine which is a specialized X-ray machine that provides real-time images.
X-ray images are captured during different phases of the swallowing process, including when the patient is at rest, swallowing, and while the barium is moving through the digestive system.
This allows the doctor to observe the movement of barium through the upper GI tract as the patient swallows.
The real-time, dynamic images provided by fluoroscopy help assess the function and structure of the esophagus, stomach, and the initial part of the small intestine.
We can observe any abnormalities such as strictures, obstructions, or abnormal motility.
After the barium swallow, it is recommended you stay hydrated, as the contrast medium can have a constipating effect.
The results of this study will be sent directly to your referring doctor.
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