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Acid Reflux / GERD

What to expect during a barium swallow

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By BS Media Twitter Profile
Published: Wednesday, 26 April 2017
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Table of contents
  1. Why are Ba swallow tests used?
  2. Procedure
  3. Associated tests
A Ba swallow is a type of test used to look inside the oesophagus, or food pipe. A doctor mightiness recommend this test if they need to look at the outline of any part of a person's digestive system.

Ba is a white liquid that is visible on X-rays. Ba passes through the digestive system and does not cause a person any harm.

As it passes through the body, Ba coats the inside of the food pipe, stomach, or intestine, causation the outlines of the variety meat to appear on X-ray.

Why are Ba swallow tests used?

A Ba swallow can help a doctor identify problems in the food pipe, stomach, or intestine.

A Ba swallow test may be used if person has any of the following conditions:

  • frequent, painful heartburn
  • gastric reflux, where food or acid keeps coming back up the food pipe
  • difficulty feeding, drinking, or swallowing

This test can give a doctor information about how the person is swallowing.

It can besides reveal if person has any of the following in their food pipe, stomach, or the first part of the intestine:

  • ulcers
  • abnormal growths
  • blockages
  • narrowing

If person has a tumour, this will show up on the X-ray as an irregular outline that extends from the wall of the affected organ.


People who are undergoing a Ba swallow should not eat or drink for a few hours before the test. In some cases, the doctor may ask the person to stop taking medication before the test.

Some hospitals recommend not chew gum, feeding mints, or smoking cigarettes after hour the night before a Ba swallow test.

The test takes around 60 proceedings and will take place in the X-ray department of the hospital. A person will need to change into a hospital gown.

People can bring a friend or relative for support. nevertheless, the companion will not be able to join them in the X-ray room.

In the X-ray room, the person drinks the Ba liquid. It often has a chalky taste but can sometimes be flavored.

A person will lie on a tilting table for part of the examinationination.

In some cases, a person will be given an injection to relax their stomach.

A person will be standing for some environment of the examinationination, and lying down on a tilting table for other environment. This allows the liquid to travel through the body, and for the radiotherapist and specialist to take a selection of images.

People do not have to stay in hospital after the test and are free to go home as shortly as it is complete. The results normally arrive inside 1-2 weeks.

Risks and side effects

Patients may feel nauseous after a Ba swallow test or become bound. Drinking tons of fluids can help to relieve constipation. Symptoms of nausea should improve as the Ba passes through the system.

It is normal for people to have white-colored stools the first few times they use the toilet after having a Ba swallow test.

Some people mightiness worry about being exposed to radiation as part of the X-ray process. nevertheless, the amount of radiation a person is exposed to is minimal.

Sometimes, the injection given to relax the stomach can cause temporary blurred vision.

Special considerations

People should not have a Ba swallow test if they are pregnant.

If person has eye disease or heart problems and inevitably to have a Ba swallow, the doctor may not give the stomach-relaxing injection.

If person has polygenic disorder then the doctor will schedule a morning appointment for the Ba swallow.

If the person takes tablets to control their polygenic disorder, the doctor will tell them not to take the medicine before the test. Instead, they should bring their tablets and some food to the examination to have after it is complete.

People who use hormone will be asked to miss their morning dose and possibly the previous evening's dose. They should bring their hormone and some food to have after the test. nevertheless, those who take long hormone should continue taking this.

Associated tests

A Ba clyster allows doctors to examinationine the colon and body part.

Another type of Ba test is a Ba clyster. The Ba clyster test is similar to the Ba swallow test and is used by doctors to examinationine the colon and body part.

This test normally takes about 40 proceedings. A person will be given a laxative the day before having a Ba clyster test. A laxative is a medicine that helps to clear out the intestine.

During the test, the person lies on their side on a table in the X-ray room. An clyster containing Ba and water is fed into their body part through a small plastic tube. Air is besides piped through the tube to inflate the intestine.

The table tilts, which spreads the Ba throughout the colon. This allows the radiotherapist and specialist to clearly see any lumps or swellings inside the colon.

The person has to try and hold the liquid in the body part piece the test takes place. subsequently, most of the liquid drains back into the tube and does not stay in the body.

After having a Ba clyster test, people may experience some cramping or diarrhoea. As with the Ba swallow, person undergoing a Ba clyster may besides have white stools the first few times they go to the toilet after the test.

There is a very small risk of the intestine lining tearing when having this test. This complication only tends to happen if the intestine is very inflamed.

Alternatives to a Ba swallow test

An alternative to a Ba swallow is a endoscopy. In this procedure, a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera is used to look inside the food pipe, stomach and the first part of the small intestine.

A computed imaging (CT) scan may besides be used in combination with a endoscopy to provide X-ray images of the gut.

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