What information does a barium swallow provide?
Barium swallow, also referred to as esophagram, is the general term for a fluoroscopic-radiographic examination of oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal swallowing. For the evaluation of dysphagia, a barium swallow study has a few advantages over endoscopy, primarily its ability to diagnose disorders of motility in addition to structural abnormalities. Conversely, endoscopy is superior in detecting milder grades of esophagitis, permits tissue sampling, and does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation. Barium swallow provides assessment of esophageal motility and emptying, type of hiatal hernia if present, presence of a stricture or mucosal injury, and detection of esophageal reflux.