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Barium Swallow (cont.)

Next Steps Following a Barium Swallow

Ask your doctor for the results of your barium swallow test. You may have to wait a few days until the radiologist (a specialist in X-ray examinations) looks at the X-rays and gives your doctor the final results. Your doctor will recommend a plan of action based on the results.

  • The x-rays will show the digestive wave (peristalsis) through the length of the esophagus. When barium reaches the end of the esophagus, the barium enters the stomach.
  • The barium swallow may reveal problems in the pharynx (the back of the throat), the esophagus, or the stomach. The problems could be narrowing, tumors, polyps, ulcers (erosions), or disorders in moving food through the system. It can also show a hiatal hernia, diverticula (pouches opening along the esophagus), or varices (enlarged veins).
  • If the barium swallow test shows any area of concern, your doctor may plan what other tests, procedures, treatments, or medications you may need. The treatment for problems discovered during a barium swallow vary depending on the condition.

When to Seek Medical Care After a Barium Swallow

Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems after the barium swallow test, such as vomiting, bleeding, pain, or trouble breathing. If you do not have a bowel movement in 2 to 3 days after the test, you should also call or see your doctor.

You should go to the hospital's emergency department if you have severe pain, difficulty breathing, constant vomiting, chest pain, or any other symptoms that you think might be an emergency.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Gastroesophageal Reflux Imaging." Updated Jun 25, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017
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