The barium swallow allows the upper digestive tract to be studied. This includes, among others, the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
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About the exam
The barium swallow consists of rendering the region opaque using an orally administered contrast medium: barium. This coats the inner walls as it progresses, making them visible on images obtained from x-rays.
This exam, which takes approximately 10 minutes, enables abnormalities such as ulcers, tumors and inflammation to be detected.
You must fast after 9:00 p.m. the night before the exam; this includes no drinking, chewing gum or smoking.
Do not undergo this exam if you are pregnant.
If you have any known allergies, please inform our staff.
Our team will guide you and position you upright, facing the x-ray machine.
The technologist will give you a liquid to drink (barium). You must also take sodium bicarbonate crystals which will create gas in your stomach.
The images will be taken by our specialist in various positions in order to follow the real-time progress of the barium through the esophagus and into the stomach.
What You May Experience
The barium swallow is absolutely painless. The crystals can cause slight discomfort: you will feel like burping, due to the air produced by the crystals inside your stomach.
After the Exam
Drink lots of water during the next 24 hours to help expel the barium. Stool may be whitish in colour for 48 to 72 hours after the exam.
The results of your exam will be sent to your referring physician, who will take care of any necessary follow-up.