What is a Barium Swallow

A Barium swallow is an X-ray examination of the oesophagus (food pipe) and stomach conducted in the fluoroscopy room. Your child will be asked to drink a special liquid called barium, which is a contrast agent that shows up on the X-ray.

The barium coats the lining of the throat, oesophagus and stomach. A series of x-rays are taken to examine the flow of the contrast to see if there is backflow from the stomach to the oesophagus (gastroesophageal reflux). It also tells us if the there is a narrowing of the oesophagus (stricture).

What does it involve?

Your child will need to fast for 4 hours prior to the procedure. Your child will be asked to drink the barium liquid, which taste chalky (wherever possible we can add some flavouring to it).

Your child must remain still throughout the examination and may need to be held in the correct position. The fluoroscopy camera will move around your child at different times and will come quite close to your child but it will never actually touch them. The examination usually takes about 20 minutes, but this can vary depending on how complex the case is.

After the examination

There are no immediate side effects of this procedure. Your child will be able to return to normal activities and diet. It is a good idea for your child to drink plenty of water as the barium may cause some constipation in the days after the examination.