A barium swallow is a diagnostic test that allows doctors to take X-rays of the esophagus. It is normally used to diagnose conditions in people experiencing digestive problems that may include the following symptoms:
- Acid reflux
- Severe indigestion
- Unexplained weight loss
A barium swallow is used to diagnose various conditions that may include the following:
- Gastroesophageal reflux diseases or GERD
The Barium Swallow Procedure
A patient ingests a solution containing barium which temporarily coats the lining of the esophagus. This allows the lining of the esophagus to be more clearly visible on an X-ray. As the barium travels through the digestive system, multiple x-rays are taken of the patient in various positions.
Complications of a Barium Swallow
A barium swallow is generally a safe procedure, however, possible complications may include:
- An allergic reaction to the barium
Patients are advised to drink plenty of fluids after the procedure to help flush the barium from their system as well as to eat a high fiber diet to avoid constipation. The physician will review the results of the barium swallow test for signs of abnormality to determine if further treatment is needed.