Esophagram/Barium Swallow

An Esophagram/Barium Swallow is an x-ray exam of your upper digestive tract (the area from your mouth to the start of your stomach). This test helps your doctor find problems such as ulcers, tumors and certain diseases.

Preparation

  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to exam with a prescription if your doctor has given you one.
  • Patients should consult their physician with regard to any oral medication prior to this exam.
  • Adults: Nothing to eat or drink (including water) 6 hours prior to the exam. No gum chewing or hard candy. No smoking of any kind.
  • Children (>2 years): Nothing to eat or drink (including water) 6 hours prior to the exam. No gum chewing or hard candy.
  • Infants: Must be hungry enough to drink. Bring bottle the infant will drink from.
    • 0-6 months: Nothing to eat or drink two hours prior to the exam.
    • 6 months – 2 years: No liquids 4 hours prior to the exam, and no solids 6 hours prior to the exam.

Procedure

  • You will drink barium (a liquid that improves x-ray images).
  • You also may swallow air crystals, a substance that makes air build up in your stomach. Do not burp, even if you feel you have to.
  • You may need to stand or lie in different positions.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for a short time during the x-ray.
  • This procedure will take approximately 30 minutes.

Considerations

  • If you are also having a Barium Enema performed, this exam must be done at least five days after.
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