Barium Swallow

What is Barium Swallow

Barium swallow is an X-ray test. It is used to check your throat and the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach (esophagus).

For this test, you will drink a white liquid called barium. The liquid shows up well on X-rays and helps your doctor see problems.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about limiting what you eat or drink.
  • Ask your doctor about changing or stopping your normal medicines. This is important if you take diabetes medicines or blood thinners.

What happens during the procedure?

  • You will be positioned on an X-ray table.
  • You will drink the liquid barium. This liquid looks like a milkshake.
  • The X-ray table may be moved so you are more upright. You may also need to change your position on the table.
  • X-ray pictures will be shown on a monitor. This allows the doctor to watch the barium as it passes through your body.

The procedure may vary among doctors and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Return to your normal activities and your normal diet as told by your doctor.
  • Your poop (feces) may be white or gray for 2–3 days. You may be given a medicine that helps you poop (laxative). This helps the barium leave your body.
  • Your doctor may also tell you to:
    • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee (urine) clear or pale yellow.
    • Eat foods with a lot of fiber in them. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  • Call your doctor if:
    • You have trouble pooping (constipation).
    • You cannot poop or pass gas.
    • You have pain or swelling in your belly (abdomen).
    • You have a fever.
  • Ask your doctor when and how you will get your test results.
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