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Barium Swallow

Overview

A special type of X-ray test, barium swallow, is conducted so that doctors get a closer look of the pharynx that is present at the back of the mouth, throat, and esophagus, the tube that extends from the back of your tongue to the stomach.

What is a Barium Swallow?

Barium swallow, as the name suggests, is usually recommended when it becomes difficult for you to swallow and you experience some kind of discomfort in doing so. A doctor may also recommend this test if you have an upper GI disorder, called the Duodenum, the first part of your small intestine, stomach and esophagus from the GI tract.

How is a Barium Swallow Performed?

In order to conduct a barium swallow test, you will be asked to swallow barium, a white and chalky substance. Don’t worry; you will not be asked to swallow it as is. A thick mixture made with water and barium is what you will need to drink.

As you drink it, your GI will get coated with barium. Barium helps in highlighting the organs, inside lining and motion of your swallowing as the organs appear white on the X-ray film. This happens as X-rays get absorbed by the barium.

Side Effects of the Barium Swallow

A barium swallow test may have the following side effects:

  • After a barium swallow test, the barium needs to be completely expelled from the body. Else, it can lead to constipation.
  • X-ray radiation can cause defects in fetuses.

Preparations Before Performing the Barium Swallow

Your doctor will give a dietary guideline to follow before a barium swallow test. Make sure to follow it properly. You will not be allowed to eat or drink anything six hours prior to the procedure.

Post-care of the Barium Swallow

After a barium swallow, your bowel movements will become light. Do not push hard or strain as this can lead to bleeding.

If you are facing GI issues, talk to a radiologist listed with mfine today.

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