Barium swallow

Barium swallow

Barium swallow

Alternative Names: Upper GI study

A barium swallow, or upper GI study, is a type of X-ray used to create images of the oesophagus and stomach in order to determine the causes of, for example, heartburn, stomach pain, swallowing difficulty, and possible stomach ulcers and cancers. Before the X-ray, you drink a chalky-tasting barium “milk shake” on an empty stomach. The Barium, which coats the intestines and stomach, absorbs the X-rays and helps to create images of these fleshy parts, which cannot be ‘seen’ in a normal X-ray. Barium can block the bowels, so you may be given a mild laxative after the X-ray.

What is it?
A barium swallow is an X-Ray ray imaging technique that uses radio-opaque barium (barium that shows up on X-Rays), within the oesophagus and stomach, to create images of the oesophagus and stomach.

It is performed in a radiology (X-ray) facility or hospital department and it takes approximately 1 hour.

Why is it done?
A barium swallow is used to investigate problems such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Possible peptic ulcers (stomach ulcers)
  • Possible cancers of the oesophagus or stomach

What happens?

Before – how to prepare
You to eat and drink nothing (nil per mouth) for 12 hours before the test.

During – how the test is done
You will be sitting up in the X-Ray ray room and you will be asked to drink some barium containing “milk shake”, which has a chalky taste. Various X-Rays rays are then taken and you may be asked to move into certain positions for these.

After the test
You may be given a mild laxative after the test because the barium can block the bowels.

Risks and Compilations
X-Ray ray radiation can, theoretically, be dangerous but most experts are not concerned about this.

Special Issues
Gastroscopy, where a doctor examines the oesophagus and stomach through a fibre-optic scope, is preferred to barium swallow in many cases.

Short Description
A barium swallow, or upper GI study, is a type of X-ray used to create images of the oesophagus and stomach in order to determine the causes of, for example, heartburn, stomach pain, swallowing difficulty, and possible stomach ulcers and cancers.

Keywords
barium swallow, or upper GI study, barium meal



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