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Barium Swallow (cont.)

During the Barium Swallow Procedure

Do not hesitate to discuss with the technicians any questions or concerns you may have before, during, or after the barium swallow test.

  • You will drink about 1 1/2 cups of a barium preparation-a chalky drink with the consistency (but not the flavor) of a milk shake. Children will drink less.
  • The barium can be seen on an X-ray as it passes through the digestive tract.
  • The barium swallow procedure may take about 30 minutes to finish. In certain cases, it may take up to 60 minutes to fill the stomach.
  • You will be strapped securely on your back on a table that tilts forward. X-rays to examine your heart, lungs, and abdomen will be taken before you drink the barium. You then will be asked to swallow the barium mixture.
  • X-rays will be taken again as the barium moves through the digestive system. You will be asked to take more swallows so more pictures can be taken.
  • As the barium moves down your digestive system, the table will be tilted at various angles to help spread the barium for different views. Pressure may be applied to your abdomen to spread the barium. Finally, you will be placed horizontally, asked to take a few more swallows of barium, and X-rayed again.

After the Barium Swallow Procedure

When you return home, you can resume your normal diet unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor. Because the barium is white, your stools will be chalky and light-colored for 1 to 3 days. Do not be concerned about this.

  • You should try to drink lots of fluids to help alleviate the constipation.
  • Eat food with lots of roughage and fiber such as raw fruits and raw vegetables.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017
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