What is a Barium Meal or Barium Swallow? This is an examination to show the upper digestive system (the gullet, stomach and duodenum in a Barium Meal; the gullet in a Barium Swallow).
What do I need to do before my X-ray? It is IMPORTANT that you have an empty stomach when this test is carried out. Therefore we ask that you:
Stop smoking for 3 hours before your examination. If you are taking medication, or if you are diabetic, please contact this department before your appointment. Have nothing to eat or drink for the amount of time specified.
What will happen when I have my X-ray? When you arrive at the X-ray department, you will be asked to confirm that all the details about yourself on your X-ray request form are correct. You will then be asked to undress down to your pants and shoes and to wear a special X-ray gown. We will give you a dressing gown to wear while you are waiting for your examination.
At the start of the test you may be asked to swallow some fizzy powder with a small amount of clear fluid. This will make your stomach full of wind. The doctor will ask you not to burp during the test, because it is important to this air in your stomach. You will also drink a small cup of Barium liquid, which will show up your digestive system on the X-ray pictures.
The doctor will take several pictures with you standing up, them lying down on the X-ray table. During the test you may be given a small injection to relax the internal stomach muscles. Please tell us if you have Glaucoma or prostate problems.
How long will it take? The examination itself usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes, but you should allow 30 to 45 minutes at the hospital.
After the test In order to prevent constipation, you should take plenty liquids, fruit and vegetables for the next few days. Due to the Barium, your stools may become light coloured for a few days but this is quite normal.
When and How will I get the result? The films taken during your examination are processed immediately to be studied and interpreted later by the Radiologist. The result will be sent to the Doctor who requested the X-ray. You will not be given the result by the Radiographer.
Barium Follow Through
What is a Barium Follow Through? This is an examination to show the Small Bowel. The preparation and the aftercare is exactly the same as for the Barium Meal/Swallow, with the following difference. For this test, you will be asked to drink about two cups of Barium liquid, which shows up your digestive system on X-ray pictures.
How long will it take? The Doctor or Radiographer will take several pictures every 20-30 minutes, recording the passage of Barium through your system. This usually takes 2-3 hours but can take longer, so please be prepared for a long stay in the X-ray department. Sometimes it may be necessary to return the following day for further pictures to be taken.